26 Feb 2014 19:50pm
WINDHOEK, 26 FEB (NAMPA) - A heated debate ensued in Parliament on Wednesday after the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana during discussions on the national budget said the finance minister collects crumbs from the table of the rich.
The home affairs minister, who premised her discussion on the fact that ownership in the country is still in the hands of foreigners and the formerly advantaged, received strong resistance from members of opposition parties.
Iivula-Ithana, who previously held the positions of foreign affairs minister and Minister of Lands and Resettlement, started her contribution by referring to an article in local English daily the Namibian Sun which said the majority of the land in Namibia is owned by people who are not indigenous to the country.
This contribution should be taken from the perspective that I am not criticising the budget, but the budget is crafted in order to share the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich of this country, she said.
Immediately, All Peoples Party (APP) president Ignatius Shixwameni intervened, saying he is shocked that a senior minister is telling the nation that Government is collecting crumbs instead of the cream on the cake.
Paying him no attention, Iivula-Ithana continued with her contribution, saying according to economists there are three issues that are considered worth looking at as a means of production in a country.
They look at the land, labour and the capital, she said.
The minister then said land in Namibia is owned predominantly by formerly advantaged Namibians and foreigners.
I am not talking about science. I am talking about a situation of landownership. Our land continues to be owned by formerly advantaged, she said, adding that the information is street knowledge and those who pretend to not know may not be Namibians.
Iivula-Ithana then stated that the land issue justifies her argument that what Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila collects, is crumbs.
I think we should put up our courage because many of us have been arguing that the Constitution of Namibia has been prohibiting us from doing this or the other, she said.
The minister then referred to Article 23 (2) of the Constitution, which says nothing contained in Article 10 (which deals with equality and freedom from discrimination) shall prevent Parliament from enacting legislation providing directly or indirectly for the advancement of persons within Namibia who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws or practices.
How do we redress and reverse the effects of apartheid economically speaking? she asked her fellow Members of Parliament (MP).
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) MP Peter Naholo wanted to know whom Iivula-Ithana was crying foul to if she was once the Attorney-General and was expected to advise Government on how to rectify imbalances.
Taking the floor again, Shixwameni said Government has all the power under the Constitution to do what it can do.
What the minister is revealing here is that Government has been sleeping on the job. We have not been doing our job properly to make sure that we have ownership of the means of production. We have not been doing our job to make sure that wealth is equally distributed, he said.
Shixwameni told the home affairs minister she should rather be embarrassed that she is revealing the fact that she is criticising the Minister of Finance by saying she is collecting crumbs, which he said is an insult to Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her staff.
Iivula-Ithana eventually called on Minister of Lands and Resettlement Alpheus Naruseb to organise a second land conference where discussions would focus on the past 24 years, as land ownership is still skewed.
In June 1991, a National Land Conference was held to discuss the land question. The conference, broadly representative in its attendance, reached a measure of consensus on the issue of redistribution. These included the resolutions that any redistribution would be on a compensatory 'willing seller/willing buyer' basis, and, significantly, that there could be no recognition of ancestral land claims.