North cannot lecture us on land – Swartbooi

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Landless People’s Movement’s (LPM) Bernadus Swartbooi says that people in the north of Namibia cannot “lecture” people in the south on issues of land.

“The north has no authority to lecture us about land – the north did not lose any land and they must keep their damn hands off our land,” Swartbooi told diners at a gala dinner hosted for LPM in Keetmanshoop on Saturday.

Swartbooi was making reference to recent media reports that people in the north have rejected ancestral land claims, and said the northern people have their own interests to protect.

Therefore, he said, people of the north will not determine the fate of landless people who lost land during the colonial years, as they do not share the same loss.

He opined that it is not rocket science that the people of the northern regions would reject the question of ancestral land because they are the ones benefiting from land reform programmes at the expense of local people who remain landless.

Swartbooi, who is a Swapo member of parliament, also lashed out at what he called the Swapo-led government for looking after the interest of one ethnic group, which he said were in the majority, while the interests of other ethnic groups do not receive the necessary attention.

Swartbooi, who during his speech kept referring to Swapo as “the Owamboland People’s Movement”, said the Swapo government has recolonised the southern people and taken away their land just like the Afrikaners did.

“Yes we got our independence but we do not have freedom,” he said.
Swartbooi, who was a land reform deputy minister before he was relieved of his post by President Hage Geingob in December last year, also spoke on the notion by some that the LPM is a political party, saying it is a movement for justice and not a party. But he pointed out that should the community want a political party he would not need permission from anyone to start one.

“Does anyone think I am afraid to start a political party? I can if I want to, but I am not that arrogant, it is not about me, but if the community feels there is a need for a new party then we do not need anyone’s permission,” he said.

The former //Kharas governor described Namibia as a one party state with ethnic domination and exclusion and what he called a “majoritarianism” rather than genuine democracy.

Swartbooi said many leaders have forgotten how to think and solve problems, adding that leaders are only focused on counting the money hidden in their houses.

He further told the gathering that due to the population majority, the northern regions would send delegates to the land conference with clear instructions to shoot down ancestral land claims, as it is not in their interest.

This, he says, would not stop LPM from getting ancestral land back as clearly stated by United Nations laws, adding that forces against land restoration would be liquidated.
Swartbooi also lashed out at Swapo for not putting land restoration as a priority, saying the party never had land return as a priority because it would not benefit the majority who are from the north.

He also spoke out against corruption in the government, saying that the state is broke and this is all because of Swapo leaders, who he said have failed the country for the past 27 years with the National Development Plans, which he termed National Disaster Plans.

“They tell you we have headwinds – headwinds only slow down a vehicle, it does not break down a vehicle, because this vehicle you call Namibia is broken, we are bankrupt, it took Swapo Party 27 years to bankrupt the state,” he said.

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