Sources close to high offices in government have warned that the upcoming land conference will be shadowed by a military presence meant to send a direct message that soldiers will be deployed against those who wish to claim for ancestral land issues.
This was disclosed by outspoken front-man for the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Bernadus Swartbooi at a press briefing in the capital yesterday.
Swartbooi, who said that he has also been furnished with a draft program of the congress, affirmed his claims by stating that General Martin Shali had been carefully deployed to be a part of the proceedings.
“Let it be known that we do not fear the military. No military is grater than people power!” he stamped.
However, speaking to The Villager, the land resettlement ministry’s public relations officer, Chrispin Matongela said General Shali has been invited on the basis of him being president for the association of veterans.
The fired former deputy minister of land reform has also disclosed that the conference is a mere Swapo election gimmick meant to be used by President Hage Geingob as a “key success story for 2019”.
Swartbooi, known for his relentless attack on the ruling political establishment ever since his exit from both party and government, said his LPM has not been officially invited or consulted to the conference.
Pressed on whether he would petition government to be included or attend preliminary regional meetings, he said there was no need to although he will send some observers to the regions.
Consultations in the regions are set to roll to life next week, the lands ministry has confirmed.
“Our view is that people should not participate in the conference,” he said adding that if there was availability of funding, LPM would have opted an alternative congress which includes the European Union and the United Nations.
Matongela said it was difficult to invite LPM because there is still confusion as to whether they are a political party or a pressure group.
LPM’s deputy leader, Henny Seibeb earlier told a daily that they would be registered as a political party by the end of February but an Electoral Commission of Namibia official confirmed that they are not yet registered as one.
Meanwhile, Swartbooi has also disclosed that, based on the provisional conference program, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila will chair it with deputy Prime Minister and that of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwa as well as lands minister Utoni Nujoma co-chairing.
Matongela could however not confirm this.
According to Swartbooi, “The attempt is to limit the role and contribution of Nujoma, an epic failure in the land question.”
“They all recognise the failed Utoni cannot make much credible contribution, but since he is the son of Sam, he is being kept along. The conference is loaded with ministers and we are told that the tactic is to intimidate and threaten participants before and during the session, and to exert maximum control over the input by certain population and geographic grounds of the country.”
The civic society groups have also been carefully chosen to include Swapo sympathisers like Nangof’s Sandy Tjaronda and Uhuru Dempers.
On the day of the conference, speaking time will be limited for certain groups while visits are being made to certain traditional authorities “to tow the regime line on land,” Swartbooi also said.