CORRECTION: Anti-land conference protest underway

01 Oct 2018 10:10am
CORRECTING: REPLACING “Workers Revolutionary Party” WITH “United People’s Movement Party” IN SEVENTH PARA

WINDHOEK, 01 OCT (NAMPA) – A demonstration by various disgruntled pressure groups, political parties, traditional leaders and civil society organisations is currently underway in front of a local hotel where the second National Land Conference has just commenced.

About 100 protesters are outside the hall, and are expected to hand their petition to President Hage Geingob.

The demonstration is aimed at blocking the land conference from going ahead, amid claims its outcome is premeditated and predetermined, thus making the convention a mere “rubber stamping exercise”.

This position is premised on among other things the leaked document titled ‘Advisory Position Paper to Government in Preparation for the second National Land Conference September 2018’, which contains recommendations to the conference.

Another issue is the composition of the delegates to the indaba, which is made up of about 80 per cent of Government representatives from its various offices, ministries and agencies.

Speaking to Nampa on Monday, United People’s Movement Party Vice-President, Jan van Wyk, who was among the protesters, said his party was not ready to support a “predetermined workshop”.

“We have urged our people not to attend and to witness the injustices that the Swapo government is doing to the people of this country,” van Wyk said, as the group chanted “Down the Utoni Nujoma conference, down!”.

Also part of the protest, Namibia Non-governmental Forum Chairperson Sandie Tjaronda said they are aggrieved Namibians and were exercising their democratic right to show such.

“The issues that are very cardinal here are issues around the ancestral land claims. That issue has not been given attention and proper focus in terms of the past administration and the current one,” he said.

He said the preparation of this conference has not been an inclusive process.

Ivan Skrywer from the Landless People’s Movement branded the national gathering as a “coffee and tea conference”.

Like Tjaronda, Skrywer said the conference is not inclusive as claimed by its organisers.
“How can it be whilst you have people, political parties and the majority of chiefs, civil society groups demonstrating just opposite the building?” he asked.

Skrywer added: “You cannot have a position paper; that already preempts and have an outcome of a conference that has not even yet started.”

Over 800 delegates from around the country, including international guests are expected to unpack and discuss various issues that relate to land in Namibia during the five-day conference.

Chief among them is the structure of land ownership in Namibia, the willing-buyer willing-seller policy and ancestral land claims and their restitution.

The conference is held under the theme ‘Towards the Comprehensive and Sustainable Land Reform in Namibia’.