Historically land dispossessed must be a special category – Omaheke inhabitants

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The inhabitants of Omaheke demand that those who lost land through historical injustices to be made a special category by the government when allocating farmland for resettlement.

They also called on the government to create an ancestral land tribunal to deal with ancestral land issues and grant preferential treatment and be sensitive to people who lost ancestral land, in all land reform programmes.

The Ministry of Land Reform in addressing the injustices of land distribution as identified during the first national land conference has acquired 531 farms to the tune of N$1.7 billion through the willing seller/willing buyer system of which 71 farms are located in the Omaheke Region hosting over a thousand beneficiaries. The ministry last Friday and Saturday held consultations with the inhabitants of Omaheke in anticipation of the second national land conference in September.

Many years of colonialism have resulted in the present situation where the vast majority of the population has access to a fraction of all agricultural land. This highly unequal distribution of land in turn laid the foundation for the structures of apartheid and labour exploitation, and thus urban and rural poverty. The land question in Namibia, like in many other previously colonised countries, is one of the most burning issues haunting the nation today. Hence the ministry’s consultations to sensitise, prepare and engage stakeholders at the grassroots level from all 14 regions in anticipation of upcoming land conference in September.

Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, in addressing the consultations here last week, said the land question is a political, social and economic issue. It is about addressing dispossession, equity and promoting productive and sustainable livelihoods through implementing programmes targeted at poverty eradication.

Nujoma added that after 27 years of implementing the 24 consensus resolutions on land that were reached during the 1991 conference on land reform and the land question, the ministry as articulated and directed in the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) found it imperative to re-group, consult and accord the Namibian nation a platform to contribute on the direction land reform should take.

Taking stock of and addressing the encountered challenges as well as coming up with strategic resolutions informed by the identified challenges and future aspirations of the Namibian people form part of the objectives of the upcoming national land conference.

Various stakeholders like constituency councillors, traditional leaders, officials of line ministries and representatives of faith-based organisations as well as the general public were among those present at the consultation.

• Julia Kamarenga is an information officer with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Gobabis.

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