Artistés 2 cents on AR
There is a general consensus among people in the entertainment industry that the intended mass land grabbing at the end of the month is not the best way to go about the issue.
The issue of availing land in Namibia has long been a bone of contention to the masses.
However, it gained momentum last year when youth leader Job Amupanda mobilized the masses through his Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement.
The radical movement has had several demonstrations to air their grievances, and now are planning their biggest one yet at the end of the month, which involves a mass land grab.
Various individuals in the entertainment industry chimed in on the issue, seeing that most of them are landless and directly affected by the issue.
First to give his two cents’ worth was award-winning musician Big Ben, who has previously composed a song regarding land issues.
“Presently, we have the right people engaging each other on what should be done on the land issue. I would rather let them handle it, provided that they know they don’t have much time to dwell on the matter,” he said.
Although he does not support the mass land grab, he said people have the right to demand for land.
“I am worried about lawlessness taking place on the 31st of July. We cannot tolerate it, regardless of who it is who is inciting the lawlessness. The moment you put the people of this country in jeopardy, you are an enemy of the State”, Big Ben explained.
He added that he does not appreciate people trying to put pressure on the current president (Hage Geingob) in an attempt to force his hand when they said nothing during previous administrations.
He said it was an unfair and irresponsible thing to do on the part of the ‘guilty’ parties.
Like many Namibians, Big Ben too does not have a place he can call his own, which makes this his plight too.
“I wrote a song on the issue called My Land some six years ago before AR was started. So, it’s not a new issue, it’s been a long time coming”, he stressed.
Fellow award-winning musician Female Donkey agreed that the massive land grab was not the way to go about it, although she could empathise with people for thinking that is the solution to the problem.
“People have been crying out for land for a long time, and their demands should be met halfway at least. However, with that said, land grabbing is still not a good thing.
We are governed by rules and laws. Even though we the people are the government, we need to adhere to them,” she stated.
Trying to drive her point home further, she asked what would become of the country’s economy if people were to cause unrest with the land grabs, adding that it would set a precedent for people to grab anything else they want.
“People should follow procedure, although I understand that they have been waiting for years, and nothing has been done about it. I hope no lives are lost on 31 July just because of land,” she concluded.
Former Big Brother Africa contestant Permithias Owoseb directed the spotlight onto the government, saying that they need to look at the fact that people need land and help them because the government is there to serve all the people.
“Government needs to deal with land and housing issues. People do not want to rent for the rest of their lives.
Government wastes time erecting unnecessary buildings; they can use that money to service land as opposed to using it on nonsense,” he stated passionately.
The reality TV star said it was his personal opinion that mobilising the police and military will not help, saying government should just give people what they need.
“They recently tabled the annual budget, but it does not make enough provision for land. People will go to extremes to try to prove a point, and that is what AR is doing,” Owoseb said.
Although they do not agree with the mass land grab, the one thing they can agree on is that it is a desperate means to an end. The end-result would be people getting land.
“As a Namibian trying to make ends meet, I strongly believe that housing should be made affordable to all. The government should carefully study who the people are who are demanding land, and it’s the people who cannot afford it,” award-winning musician and single mother Erna Chimu reiterated.
Chimu recently revealed to The Villager newspaper that she has been trying to acquire land or a house for a while.
However, she applied through the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), and not through AR.
“What are we trying to say about our country with people living in squatter camps? Grabbing land is not the way to go about things, but it is understandable because people have been waiting to get land for 25 years,” the songstress said.
Nonetheless, she tried to discourage people from grabbing land, saying it was unsafe to live on land which is not serviced because there are safety and sanitation issues.
“It is unfair to give some people land under the pretext that they are ‘special’, while other people have been on waiting lists for a long time. The culprits who do this should be brought to book,” she said sternly.
There are many conflicting views on AR, and whether the scheduled mass land grab is the best way to catalyse government into action remains to be seen only after 31 July.