Govt has not done much on land - Shaningwa

July 17, 2015, 7:41am

Govt has not done much on land - Shaningwa

By Tuyeimo Haidula

URBAN and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa yesterday admitted that government has not done much regarding the land issue in the past 25 years.
Her admission comes two weeks ahead of the deadline set by the Affirmative Repositioning movement for local authorities to resolve the land issue or risk mass land occupations.
Shaningwa also said the plight of landless Namibians, especially the youth led by Job Amupanda, George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma is a genuine one. 
“It has been genuine already as of yesterday and yes, we have to do more, that I agree,” Shaningwa said after meeting the council of traditional leaders in Windhoek in the presence of the vice president Nickey Iyambo.
The council of traditional leaders had called for the meeting to advise government to open dialogue with the land activists. 
Shaningwa revealed that her ministry has introduced a new system which synchronises and picks up names of those who already have plots and are trying to apply for another one. 
She urged local authorities not to allocate two residential plots per person, saying she has clear instructions on what to do and the final decision lies with her. 
“I am not going to give my signature should you come to my office wanting to own two plots. 
I have a duty entrusted on me by government to make sure applicants who come up and say I have my salary and I want land get it. Land will also not be given for free,” Shaningwa said. 
She said this is where she needs to start rectifying, asking whether the group threatening to occupy land illegally wants to buy or to get it for free.
“I should also be told when people say they want to grab land, are they saying land should be taken for free? This message is also not clear,” Shaningwa said. 
She added that it is also not clear whether the group intends to also grab farms. 
“I did not hear that, maybe it is still to come,” she told the media, adding that through her ministerial statement of intent, she informed President Hage Geingob that she needed the State to help her make land affordable by first servicing it. 
“Under no circumstances am I going to encourage the grabbing of unserviced land. At the end of the day, I will be having people helping themselves in plastic bags and throwing away in the riverbeds. They should give me more time,” Shaningwa pleaded.
Nauyoma said people are fighting for affordable housing and the question of whether they will buy or not is not an issue for now.
“Let us first make affordable land available. The high prices caused the crisis in the first place.”
Speaking on behalf of the council of traditional leaders, chief of the Topnaar Traditional Authority, Seth Kooitjie, said they are very worried over the land issue. 
“This land grabbing is starting as a small piece of action but it can also reach our traditional areas, rural areas and commercial areas. As traditional leaders, as custodians of the land, we are very worried,” Kooitjie said. 
Kooitjie said land grabbing is a legal issue and the country is guided by law. 
He said government has the power to look into the issue of land, saying they encourage dialogue as it will help start negotiations to reach a lasting solution. 
“As traditional leaders those are our children. We will advise them to carry out whatever wishes they have through our government. They should not go ahead but come to the table and talk,” he said adding that as traditional leaders, they fear for unnecessary loss of human life should the planned mass occupation take place. 
The meeting with the traditional leaders' council comes after Amupanda, Kambala and Nauyoma met a ministerial committee comprising home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, justice minister Albert Kawana, minister of land reform Utoni Nujoma and attorney general Sacky Shanghala on Monday at the home affairs offices. tuyeimo@namibian.com.na

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