New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Land Revolution Possible - Pohamba

Windhoek — The policy of willing seller, willing buyer has failed over the past 22 years and something has to be done to amend the constitution so that the government be allowed to buy land for the people.

"Otherwise, if we don't do that we will face a revolution. And if the revolution comes, the land will be taken over by the revolutionaries," President Hifikepunye Pohamba remarked during a recent interview on the Talk to Al Jazeera programme.

In the Talk to Al Jazeera interview he detailed how Namibia has managed to remain peaceful, and how he intends to deal with the underlying anger and growing discontent.

"Inequality exists ... people are not happy and when you talk about people not happy, what do you expect? They can react. And when they react, then those who have the land will not have the land, people will take over the land," said Pohamba.

"A conference on land suggested that those who have plenty of land should sell it to the government. And we tried to get the land from them, but unfortunately there is reluctance. Something else has to be tried. We are not talking about confiscation, we are talking about them selling the land to the government in order for the government to distribute the land to ... I don't like to use the word black, but to those who were formally disadvantaged by the situation," said the president.

"For the last 20 years we have been appealing to them that please, let's consider ourselves irrespective of our colour. As one people, as Namibians and if a Namibian is suffering, let's all sympathise with him. Here we have hundreds, if not thousands of Namibian people, who have no land and therefore are suffering," he told Talk to Al Jazeera.

The interviewer noted Namibia is extremely rich in mineral resources, however there is great inequality.

"Many of the big landowners are white, and the black population is increasingly angry about this situation. So the president says the white population must give up land or possibly face a revolution," reads a statement from its website.

"Namibia is rich with minerals, and the fishing industry but it is not benefiting our people. Most of the resources are taken out in raw form and [the country] is left with people suffering from poverty," said the president.

Pohamba went on to say that the colonisers denied the Namibian people education and the first university was established only two years after independence. "[Namibia] lacks skilled people to explore the resources," he added. Pohamba encouraged foreign investors to work together with Namibians to exploit the country's resources, adding that oil exploration is still ongoing.

Responding to a question about seal culling, President Pohamba said it is the same as harvesting cattle, game and fish and did not understand why critics only concentrate on seal culling.

"Harvesting is done carefully ... if we see there is depletion then we stop to allow them to multiply," he explained, adding that seals are a natural resource that is used to benefit the people of Namibia.

On corruption, Pohamba was irritated that the term is used to label all Africans. "Corruption is not only an African thing," he said, adding that Europe and many other countries are also involved in corruption.

"Africans are corrupted by those people coming to Africa," he responded. However, he said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Namibia has been empowered to investigate any corrupt activities without the interference of government.

Pohamba said Swapo Party is allowing space for the new generation to take over the leadership. He said the younger generation currently comprises of Cabinet and Members of Parliament who will eventually take over from the liberation pioneers.

According to Pohamba, there is nothing wrong with the Swapo Party leading the country for the past 22 years as long as the party does not impose its leadership and is democratically elected.

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