Land Bill ridiculous working document: Swartbooi

07 Feb 2017 13:50pm
MALTAHÖHE, 07 FEB (NAMPA) – Former Deputy Minister of Land Reform and Member of Parliament, Bernadus Swartbooi slammed the Land Bill as a “notorious and ridiculous” working document.
Swartbooi said any law on land must only be tabled after the inclusion of and buy-in from land dispossessed Namibians into re-alignment of the land reform approach in Namibia, thus the Second National Land Conference should come before re-tabling the Land Bill.
He made the remarks at a mass meeting for landless Namibians in Maltahöhe, Hardap Region on Sunday.
“We will not make inputs to the narrow dictates of the government reform agenda; it is not in our interest and it is not in the national interest,” he said.
If need be, land dispossessed Namibians will institute every measure of legal action on this and other issues of land reform, Swartbooi charged.
He urged landless Namibians to support preparations for their own “Landless Peoples’ Conference” in September when the Second National Land Conference is scheduled. The first National Land Conference was held in 1991.
“We must set the agenda for our land question ourselves, and the government must hear our historic plight as well as our futuristic proposal about the way forward on land matters,” Swartbooi noted.
He said the Ministry of Land Reform’s Resettlement Programme should be stopped until an agreement is reached on its future modalities and its relevance in Namibia.
He then urged people to join a protest organised for 14 February during the opening of the National Assembly (NA).
The protest is organised by a group known as the ‘Landless Peoples’ Movement’ with the objective to reclaim land dispossessed from indigenous communities.
A member of the group, Henny Seibeb, told Nampa on enquiry Monday they will not negotiate on the date of the protest and will not accept anyone other than the Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, to receive the petition.
He said the protest is driven by continued provocation and “extra arrogance” of Land Reform Minister, Utoni Nujoma, who recently said people asking for the Land Bill not to be re-tabled are unpatriotic and promote Bantustan and tribalism.
The Land Bill would include provisions that would benefit all Namibians in terms of land purchases and development funding. It would also have a clause that would extend the powers of the Land Tribunal to deal with all disputes regarding land.
Nujoma tabled the Bill in Parliament in November 2016. The ministry has extended the deadline for submissions on the Land Bill until 16 February 2017.