Pohamba in ‘undiplomatic’ attack on ex-colonisers
President Hifikepunye Pohamba has put part of the blame for land grabs on white farmers, who do not want to sell their land to government, while at the same time saying that former colonisers were now presenting themselves as so-called human rights champions.
Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the National Human Rights Action Plan, Pohamba was scathing in his criticism of those who were refusing to sell land to the government, so it in turn can satisfy the hunger of the landless
Pohamba also spoke about the painful legacy of colonialism and apartheid, during which Namibians were subjected to atrocities, including genocide and being made slaves in their own country.
He said reconciliation should not only be based on “eating at the same table with a white man”.
“It should also be extended to property, including land.
When we came (from exile) and spoke about the land, those who confiscated land from the black people of this country did not want to release the land.
Up to this moment the majority, including those who fought, having no land while we have several people having farms which they do not want to part with,” Pohamba said.
“Our people, the blacks, are saying ‘is that the reconciliation we talk about?’ Why can’t we have reconciliation like we eat at the same table, we can also share land, because the basis of struggle was land... Land is the problem we have in this country. Young people have started grabbing land. I think as you are dealing with these human rights, you need to talk about land more and more,” Pohamba said to Ombudsman John Walters, who was among the audience. He said he understands that white land owners want to take cases to court concerning land tax. Pohamba said it is through land tax that government gets money to buy land. “Indirectly it means they don’t want the government to have money and therefore not buy land for the landless, indirectly it means that,” he said.
He said people were denied basic fundamental freedoms and it is against this grim background that Namibian people rose up to resist both German and apartheid colonialism, which culminated in the struggle for freedom and national independence.
“Many of those people (former colonisers) today want to be seen as champions of human rights,” Pohamba said.
“They will think the President is out of order and not considering diplomacy. I am considering diplomacy, but I want to talk the truth of what had happened,” he remarked
Pohamba said Namibia was born out of a brutal and dehumanising colonial past.
“During German colonalisation our people were subjected to genocide extermination campaigns. That’s why when we removed their horse rider (Reiterdenkmal) in the city, we put a monument depicting what happened,” he indicated.
He said the effects of the despicable apartheid policy in South Africa extended to Namibia to ensure white minority settlers dominated, while majority Africans faced a life of hardship and poverty. He added that Africans were deprived of their political freedom, forcefully removed from their land and made slave labourers in their own country.
Pohamba said he spoke to a Namibian of European descendant recently, who told him that Namibians should not talk about the past atrocities. “I said to him, we are talking about history. We are not talking about wanting to retaliate against those who did that. History can be told and we want it to be told as time goes on... They came from their continent, Europe, enslaved us and did all sorts of things to us. This is what happened,” the Head of State said. He said there are times when he speaks about the atrocities and he becomes emotional. He said Namibia had removed the burden of apartheid colonialism and embraced the future with a sense of optimism and anticipation for a better life for all her people.
“When we say all our people, we just don’t talk about black Namibians. We include white Namibians, even those who were deployed to commit atrocities against black people of this country.”
Selma Ikela Namibian Sun