Southerners plan mass meetings on land

24 Jan 2017 16:10pm
REHOBOTH, 24 JAN (NAMPA) – ‘Progressive Landless Namibians’ in the South are planning mass meetings in February to address their landlessness.
The meetings are scheduled for Keetmanshoop in the ||Kharas Region and Maltahöhe in the Hardap Region, with dates to be announced soon.
Former deputy ministry of land reform, Clinton Swartbooi is expected to feature as keynote speaker at both meetings.
Swartbooi resigned in December after refusing to apologise for saying Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma resettles people from other regions in southern Namibia at the expense of the Nama people, who are regarded as native to the South.
This fuelled the need for a national debate on Namibia’s postcolonial resettlement programme as many feel it is not effective and undermining the people of the South.
Approximately 500 residents of the two southern towns held peaceful demonstrations two weeks ago in protest of the proposed Land Bill’s tabling in Parliament before the second National Land Conference is held.
Land Activist and one the organisers behind the mass meetings, Sima Luipert, told Nampa on Monday that tabling the Land Bill is premature, considering President Hage Geingob announced in his New Year’s message that the land conference will be held in September.
“One is left pondering what the purpose of the land conference in September is if the Land Bill is already up for debate,” said Luipert, stressing that the content of any future bill should be dictated by the outcome of the land conference.
She further said Nujoma has thus far not shown any interest in engaging the electorate regarding their dissatisfaction.
“This fuels public anger, which we should all avoid,” Luipert said.
The activist charged that Government is rewriting the facts of history on land dispossession in order to suit its policy of national reconciliation and implementing land reform, as if everybody lost land at the same scale.
“Land reform cannot be understood without making reference to historical facts of dispossession. Those communities in the colonial Police Zone carry the effects of dispossession.”
Ministry of Land Reform Spokesperson Chrispin Matongela on Monday told Nampa via telephone that laws used by the ministry are derived from the first National Land Conference held in 1991 and the proposed Land Bill is not very different.
“The laws we are using are two: the Commercial and Communal Acts. All we did was to merge these acts because as a country, we can’t have two separate laws addressing the same thing.”
He said the proposed Bill is different in that the Land Acquisition and Development Fund will cater for both communal and commercial land.
Therefore, Matongela said, suspending the tabling of the Bill is not right.
The Land Bill Chapter One under the Objectives of Act are to address, in accordance with the Namibian Constitution, injustices of the past which included dispossession and inequitable access to and unequal distribution of land under colonialism and apartheid to provide for a unitary land system, where Namibian citizens have equal rights, opportunities and security with regard to land, irrespective of where the land is situated.