Concerns ahead of land conference

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
Windhoek

Discussions around the envisaged land conference scheduled to take place later this year are back in the spotlight, with the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) saying the community is concerned about the status and format of the conference.

Briefing the media yesterday on the two-day Ovaherero Chief’s Council meeting that took place in Windhoek on Monday and Tuesday, OTA chief spokesperson, Bob Kandetu, said strong statements made in public by both President Hage Geingob and the Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, on various communities’ demands for the return of ancestral land had left many during the meeting questioning whether any fairness would prevail at the planned conference.

According to Kandetu, the position of both Geingob and Nujoma denotes an element of ridicule, which raises the question whether the land conference would be above board and fairly managed, given the fact that the government has already taken a position prior to the debate to take shape on the floor of the conference.

“We need to re-inspect the premises upon which we have based our planning for national development,” he said.

“This calls for introspection and again the traditional authority is looking forward to a discussion with Geingob prior to the conference,” he added.

Kandetu says the question of ancestral land has taken centre stage among the Namibian public and there are those who feel aggrieved by certain comments.

The fact that Nujoma is questioning the integrity of the demands for ancestral land, and the government’s approach to such a sensitive matter, leave much to be desired, he added.

Kandetu said the chief’s council also noted with concern that farms bought by the government in conformity with the willing-seller model have not effectively performed and remain under public scrutiny.

He said the government has over the years bought many farms but judging from the public outcry about the resettlement process all is not well and seemingly the process of resettlement has not been well managed.

“There is no evidence that those who were resettled on these farms were the most deserving.”

He said that in Namibia those who lost land deserve to be resettled.
According to information at their disposal most arable land is in the hands of government, while 2 700 farms are in the hands of absentee landlords and 6 000 farms are in the hands of traditional land owners.

In this regard, he said, the government is still falling around to invoke expropriation legislation.

“The process of resettlement has in essence been a process of settlement for Namibians indiscriminately, and has become so wholesale fashion,” he said.
In the end, he said, many beneficiaries were not those in utmost need.

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