Political parties express mixed feelings over ancestral land

16 Sep 2018 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 16 SEP (NAMPA) – The claims for restitution of ancestral land have divided political formations, with some questioning their relevance in modern-day Namibia, while others hold the view that ancestral land cannot be ignored at the upcoming land conference.
The Namibian Sun reported that the four northern ‘O’ regions - Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati - all resolved in their respective regional land consultations that ancestral land not be discussed.
They based this on the grounds that the ancestral land debate is tribalistic and is retrogressive in nature.
United Democratic Front leader, Apius Auchab raised concerns with Nampa recently, saying different Namibian ethnic groups are claiming the same geographical areas as theirs.
“Otjiherero-speaking Namibians are saying Windhoek is theirs. Damara-speaking Namibians are saying it’s theirs. Nama-speaking Namibians are saying Windhoek is theirs. Who is right?” he asked.
Auchab said there are rivers and rocks with Herero names across Namibia.
“Does it mean they were all over the country? It can’t be! All these things should be taken into consideration.”
In his view, it is not who the land belongs to that matters, but how the land can be used to meaningfully contribute to economic growth.
Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani on Sunday told Nampa his party is in support of those claiming ancestral land for restitution.
“Ancestral land claimants should be heard. Today we are sitting with the Germans, we want them to pay money for the losses perpetrated in this country when the genocide took place,” he said.
According to Venaani, it is inconsistent to demand reparation from the German government for loss of land and yet not recognise the same at the land conference.
He added that he will propose a formula to this effect at the conference.
Speaking at a separate gathering recently, Swanu’s Usutuaije Maamberua said all land owned by Namibians prior to the arrival of colonialists is known and qualifies as ancestral land, and should be discussed.
“We know our ancestral land. The land we owned before the arrival of the colonisers in 1883, that land is ours and we will get it back,” he said.
The second National Land Conference is slated for 01 to 05 October 2018.
When asked what Swapo's position was about ancestral land claims at a recent media conference, its secretary information and mobilisation, Hilma Nicanor said they aim to deal with the land issue holistically.
The conference will amongst others attempt to resolve ancestral land restitution, removal of the Red Line and urban land reform and other topical land issues, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said this week.