Mass land conference boycott at 11th hour

27 Sep 2018 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 27 SEP (NAMPA) – Several groups on Thursday moved to boycott the second national land conference amid a host of alleged irregularities and the purported predetermined outcome of the convention.
The groups include several Traditional Authorities (TAs), civil society organisations, labour unions, faith-based organisations and political parties.
Addressing a media briefing in Windhoek, Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro who spoke on behalf of the groups explained that the decision to boycott is based on a document leaked on Wednesday, which is purportedly the government’s position paper on land.
The document, titled ‘Advisory Position Paper to Government in Preparation for the Second National Land Conference September 2018’, says the issues of ancestral land and restitution should not be entertained at the conference.
“It is even more shameful that while we domestically deny the right to ancestral land to the dispossessed citizens of Namibia, we proceed to lay a monetary claim against Germany for expropriation of land – which land? On behalf of whom are we laying such claims? Clearly our greed seems to blind us from seeing this shameful contradiction,” Rukoro said.
Another reason for the boycott, he added, is the composition of delegates to the conference, which is made up of over 70 per cent Government representatives.
This, according to the group, is a clear indication that Government has merely invited itself to the conference and thus seeks to keep the status quo intact.
“Let the government and its entities proceed with their mini Berlin Conference which is aimed at declaring a political and economic extermination order against the disposed of our people,” Rukoro vented.
Instead, the united force of former foes is pleading to postpone the conference to 2020.
Detailing conditions that can legitimise the conference, Namibian Non-governmental organisation Forum Trust (Nangof) chairperson Sandie Tjaronda stressed that the conference should not be held a year before national elections for electioneering purposes.
“We don’t want this conference of national magnitude to be polarised by political activities where people are just doing to solicit votes,” he said.
He further wants Government to consider taking an inclusive approach by ensuring that all stakeholders are on board “from day one”.
“Thirdly, nobody should come with a position paper,” Tjaronda noted, saying the list of those resettled by Government since the inception of its National Resettlement Programme should also be made public.
The last demand is for a moratorium be placed on the ongoing resettlement process until after a “legitimate land conference”.
The group is composed of the OTA, Nama Traditional Leaders Association (representing nine traditional authorities), the Kambezembi Royal House, Mureti TA, Kapia TA, Hoveka Royal House, Swanu, the National Unity Democratic Organisation and the Landless Peoples Movement.
Nangof and over 200 labours unions, faith-based organisations and community bodies associated to it have all withdrawn from the conference.