Open letter to Land Reform Minister

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By organizing a land conference in 1991, Namibia had given hope to its formerly disadvantaged (mainly indigenous) population while also inspiring confidence in the formerly advantaged members of its society that land reform was unavoidable and that same would happen within the confines of the law. It is, however, disappointing, 27 years after that historic conference, to see political parties and lawmakers in the Namibian Parliament at loggerheads with the executive and with one another on an issue about which consensus should have prevailed a long time ago.

It was not a mistake that your ministry was renamed Land Reform. Indeed, the recent “idiot” squabble in the National Assembly between the former Deputy Minister of Land Reform [Bernadus Swartbooi], against the Minister of Land Reform [Utoni Nujoma], the birth of Affirmative Repositioning, the formation of Landless People‘s Movement, NANGOF’s [Namibian Non-Governmental Organisations Forum] recent pronouncements about land are not only reflective of an unfinished business as far as land reform in Namibia is concerned, but also suggestive of an executive that appears to be trapped in powerlessness.

But how can an executive, which is elected by a two-thirds majority, be constantly complaining instead of taking decisions and execute them as per its mandate?

This behavior gives credence to the irritation mainly felt in the ranks of the Namibian youth and other progressive citizens, that our executive often behaves as if Namibia is ruled by a government of national unity or some kind of a coalition government instead of outright majority rule.

For too long our Swapo Party-led government has been exhibiting powerlessness and appears to have been reduced to public preaching instead of being a doer. Very often the government has been embarrassing its electorate by losing almost all legal cases apparently because it has the lowest paid and least qualified lawyers in the country. Cde Minister, what powers of state do this miserable picture reflect in the eyes of the citizens and the world at large?

It has been pointed out on various occasions that land is a sensitive issue and not least in Namibia, given its long and complex history of colonial dispossession and that of the long and bitter liberation struggle that sought to reverse it. Thus, land was not only the cause for colonial occupation; it was also the cause for the liberation struggle. To keep it unsolved is not only tantamount to marching under the ugly banners and trumpets of Janus, but also engaging in a Sisyphus-like exercise of which the consequence is too terrible to contemplate.

* Charles Siyauya possesses a Master of Arts Degree in Security and Strategic Studies from the School of Military Sciences of the University of Namibia.

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