Land issue needs political solutions and strategies

21 Jul 2015 12:40pm
By Pearl Coetzee

WINDHOEK, 21 JUL (NAMPA) – The current land issue spearheaded by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement needs a political solution and the formation of strategies to provide decent housing to Namibians.
This is the view of Ruth Hall, an Associate Professor of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) as well as the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa.
Hall suggested that political-will could be the way forward to address the land grabbing threats made by the AR. Last year September, the AR gave Government chance until 31 July 2015 to respond to the about 50 000 land applications submitted by landless youth to local authorities and municipalities countrywide.
“What is needed is a political solution and the creation of a strategy to provide rapid release of land for housing development and other purposes, alongside social housing.” she proposed.
Hall was responding to questions posed by Nampa on the latest developments concerning the land issue in Namibia.
On the announcement made by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) to recall all police officers who are on leave to be on standby on 31 July 2015, Hall said that the response appears to be purely for security reasons.
The Inspector-General of NamPol, Sebastian Ndeitunga, made a number of announcements aimed at defusing threats of land invasion about a week ago. The announcements included the recalling of all police officers who are on leave, as well as the mobilisation of other stakeholders such as hospitals, ambulances and the fire brigade ahead of July 31 – the deadline set by the (AR) movement.
Hall made reference to South Africa's anti-land invasion unit created by the City of Cape Town in 2009, in an effort to stop people from illegally attempting to occupy land.
The Anti-Land Invasions Unit is the biggest unit in the city's law enforcement operation and consists of specially trained officers mandated by the city's Human Settlements Department to stop people who attempt to illegally occupy city and provincial owned land.
The unit does this by monitoring and patrolling vacant land on a 24/7 basis; enforcing the rule of law when land is illegally occupied; stopping illegal shack building; and providing backup to housing officers during evictions, relocations and the demolition of illegal structures.
Meanwhile, the Office of the President in a statement on Friday reaffirmed its willingness to engage with the AR leaders, something welcomed by the AR movement in way of addressing Namibia’s pressing land issue.