By Francis Xoagub
KHORIXAS residents have added their voices to those speaking out across the country about ancestral land, the country’s resettlement policy and genocide reparations.
At a gathering held recently in the town, speakers said that those affected by these issues, were being ignored.
“The issue of land allocation should not be politicised to the extent that only a handful of well-connected benefit from the resettlement programme. We are the ones who voted for this government, and we stand by the constitution,” said ≠Aodama Traditional Authority Chief, Petrus Ukongo, in a speech at the event, read on his behalf by Mathews Hoaeb.
The chief said that the issues of land expropriation, resettlement and genocide reperations are currently being debated in a one-sided manner, as the people who had suffered directly are being ignored.
He warned that these “emotional and divisive” issues, could set the country alight.
The gathering was organised by the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Land Consultative Initiative, which is being spearheaded under the auspices of the Namibian Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGOF), which aims to consult communities in the //Kharas, Hardap, Omaheke, Kunene, Erongo, Otjozondjupa and Khomas regions.
According to NANGOF’s Uhuru Dempers, these regions were the most affected by colonial land grabs.
“We all know that people died for our stolen land. We have therefore embarked upon redressing the situation, with the aim of finding an amicable solution,” he said.
Ukongo urged stakeholders to learn from the country’s first land conference, held in 1991.
“As a democratic government, we have the greatest ability to influence project outcomes at this stage, because nothing has been cast in stone yet, and as such, everything can be amended in the interest of the country,” he said.
Ukongo also emphasised the need to fast-track land redistribution for the poor and landless black people.
“The policy of willing buyer, willing seller policy has not brought about equity or a radical shift on the issue of land ownership. This issue should be looked at critically, and resolved, at the upcoming second national land conference.”
He said that his traditional authority was aware that the issue of ancestral land seemed not to augur well with the government, and thus suggested that the term ancestral land be changed to stolen or alienated land, instead.
“Maybe that would make our government understand that indeed this land was stolen from us and that blood was shed in the process, and that we demand our land back,” he said.
The chief proposed that the decisions and resolutions taken at the 1991 land conference should be reviewed and debated, and if need be, amended where possible.
He further said that his traditional authority was against the amalgamation of commercial and communal land laws into one.
The lands ministry has drafted a new Land Bill, in order to merge the two existing laws, namely the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, the Communal Land Reform Act.
“We are totally against this decision, as it would deprive us of our communal land in the long run, and impoverish us, as we would then be paying taxes.
“Let the land issue be approached in a sober and patriotic manner with a win-win solution in mind,” he said. The chief welcomed the decision to put the Land Bill on ice, until further notice.
“We see many positives from this announcement. The decision reaffirms that our government continues to listen to the people, and the decision provides a platform for further engagement, as we seek to produce a watertight piece of legislation,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015