THE burning land issue has whipped up emotions in the past few days, thanks to comments made by the Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma during a news programme aired by South Afrcia’s eNCA channel, which may have been blown out of context.
The land issue is indeed an emotive one as it affects the majority of Namibians who are still “squatting” in their montherland nearly three decades after Independence. Surely, Government is well aware of the burning and urgent need to address this issue to avaoid Namibia falling into the same pitfalls that we have witnessed in sister countries not far from us.
Though Minister Nujoma may have raised a valid point, let’s not be sidetracked by his seemingly unfortunate word selection which has set the social media ablaze with angry comments. The land issue is both social and economical. While our people need land to live on and derive their livelihoods from, it cannot be overemphasised that we also need to guard agains turning currently productive land into unproductive settlements. We have seen how, in some countries that have over-politicised the issue, productive green plantations have been turned into barren land, all in the name of resetlling landless citizens.
Dialogue, engagement and lessons learned from others are crucial for Namibia to be able to implememt a meaningful land reform programme, that not only avails land to those who really need it but also ensures that national production is not negatively impacted, with dire consequences.
Hence, we call for renewed urgency in convening the National Land Conference in order to collectively chart a clear way forward. The land issue is not a matter we can keep postponing. We cannot run away from it, we cannot ignore it, so the sooner we deal with it the better.
RCC case precedent
The Roads Contractor Company saga is another matter that has dominated the news in the past few weeks. The partial sell-off of the financially crippled company to a Chinese firm has not gone down well with some Cabinet members.
However, it is unfortunate that the RCC Board’s seemingly noble initiative may have been tainted by procedural oversights. Why the Board decided to sneak the deal behind their Line Minister and Cabinet remains a mystery.
For years Government and the public at large have raised their concerns about the perenial bailing out of non-performing state owned enterprises (SoEs), which continue to gobble millions of dolars from the Treasury with no end in sight. In this light, the RCC Board’s initiative to secure independent financing to keep the entity operational was not a bad idea at all. The only blemish perhaps is that they did not seek the blessings of their Lines Minister and that of the Finance Ministry.
It’s unfortunate that this ingenious N$2 billion deal has now collapsed, with even more likelihood of the RCC itself collapsing totally and hundreds of Namibians losing their jobs.
Added to this, the unfolding sad scenario at the RCC will now serve as a deterrent lesson for other battling SoEs who may have been looking at other ways of recapitalising themselves, away from the usual state bailouts. It will not augur well for SoEs to be enterprising and will instead perpetuate the sad syndrome of looking to Goverment (tax payers) for funding.
While the RCC may have erred by ignoring procedure, perhaps some consideration should have been given to rectifying the mistakes and legimatise the arrangement.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015