I read with great concern the articles in several local newspapers about a Russian billionaire who bought land of over 28,000 hectares in this country. He apparently is trying to buy more land to have over 46,000 hectares as his own private property.
It is said that the Russian is offering N$24 million to the land reform ministry for him to buy additional land from the sellers. This is tantamount to bribery. The land of the country is a precious heritage of the people and the government cannot be bribed to sell that precious heritage recklessly to foreign nationals.
Why is he so confident that he can bribe our government with N$24 million to sell the people’s heritage to him? Many people died for the liberation of their country and to get their land back. He got 28,000 ha of the land that we liberated through the blood of our people and he still wants to bribe our government to sell him more land. Are we so easily bribable to the extent of selling our precious heritage for money? That money will get finished and the heritage which is land and which was sold in that way will remain the ownership of foreigners, leaving us landless in our motherland.
Chief Maharero who was under pressure from Germans to give them land gave them a basket of sand. By that he wanted to let them know that the land of his country was not to be given to foreigners. It is now heartbreaking that we sell huge tracks of land to foreigners while our own people are landless in their motherland. Where is patriotism these days? This concern I am raising here is not specifically aimed at this Russian billionaire alone but is aimed at all the foreigners who come here and are allowed to buy farms in this country. The foreign nationals have the right to come to Namibia and we are open to welcome them and live in peace and harmony with them. Particularly, the Russians and the Chinese who helped us very much during our protracted and difficult liberation struggle.
Be that as it may, there are certain things that we simply cannot dish out to them indiscriminately. Land surely is one of such things that should not be sold recklessly to foreign nationals.
The people of this country are now fighting and are demanding the restoration of their rights over their land which was taken by force from their ancestors by colonial regimes. Colonial occupation of this country was about land. Paul Robrbach, the colonial German commissioner for resettlement in the so-called German South West Africa had this to say: “The decision to colonize South West Africa means nothing else than that the native tribes must withdraw from the land on which they pastured their cattle and so let the white man pasture his cattle on this self-same land.”
The land was taken by force from the people of the country. Therefore, it was, indeed, a fact that the land was central in the uprising of the Ovaherero and Nama people against the Germans. The land which was taken in this way is the bone of contention today.
The genocide committed by Germany resulted in brutally uprooting the victims of that genocide from their land. The land is a very sensitive issue.
The protracted liberation war, which was waged by SWAPO, was not only for hoisting flags but to get our land back from colonizers.
Many people of this country were driven into substandard areas called “native reserves” by the colonial authorities, in which they are living up to now. Some of the so-called native reserves are too small and people are too many who are still there. Take an example of Ovitoto “native reserve”. Ovitoto has 61,194 ha. The entire reserve is situated in hilly and mountainous areas with numerous deep and narrow valleys. The only level portions are found around Otjongombe in the north-eastern corner of the reserve. To make things worse the reserve is traversed by numerous and dangerous rivers. Most areas are non-arable – only small isolated patches of the arable soil occur, notably in the north.
We had a first land conference and the holding of the second land conference is now being envisaged. That shows that the land issue is of serious concern to our nation – it is why people of the country are meeting in these important land conferences.
Our foreign friends can surely enjoy the use of the land through usufruct.
I am afraid and concerned that the manner and the way we are handling the land issue is very dangerous and our future generations will not forgive us because we may leave them landless forever in their motherland. Namibia is not for sale.