President Hage Geingob yesterday announced Cabinet’s decision to postpone the highly anticipated landmark second
national land conference, which was slated for later this month.
The president said Cabinet had considered calls for broader consultation, as demanded by some stakeholders, such as civil society group Nangof, as well as the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), amongst others.
This is the second time that conference has been postponed, as it was originally slated for 2016, before Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma informed the National Assembly of the decision to postpone it due to a shortage of funds.
The initial postponement was met with widespread criticism, with the opposition leading the chorus of dissent at the time. SWANU president Usutuaije Maamberua called the postponement “unpatriotic” at the time.
The second land conference was to take stock of the achievements made since the first national land conference in 1991 and to establish what is needed to accelerate and improve the implementation of the recommendations made then.
Geingob made the announcement when he met the Namibia Media Trust executive chairperson Gwen Lister at State House yesterday.
President Geingob said his decision was prompted by a number of concerns articulated by stakeholders, who expressed the need for wider public consultations. He further revealed that his decision was met with mixed feelings by some senior ministers, as some were opposed to the postponement.
“Let’s take time to study it,” he said with reference to the land issue. “We are talking about ancestral land. These are very complicated matters,” he told journalists.
“The first conference failed to address that. So why should we rush now? Some ministers are not happy, but I am deciding let’s give people more time. That’s why we are going to postpone it,” he reiterated.
President Geingob acknowledged that the land issue is an emotive issue, especially now that the question of ancestral land has been dragged to the centre of the debate.
Therefore, he said, there is no need to rush the second land conference, as it would be better to rather give al concerned parties adequate time to deliberate and get proper input.
“I got letters, one from Nangof and the other signed by the youth leader [Mandela] Kapere, expressing fear that we are not doing it the right way,” Geingob said. “We have not been consulting properly. The meetings called were not there to solicit proper input from the people.
“And because of that appeal I replied to say: ‘I will study your concerns, and if I see that there is some truth in it, then why should I rush it?’ The idea is to get proper input,” Geingob explained.
He said no fixed date has yet been set for the land conference to take place, as this would be subject to further consultation.
President Hage Geingob