5 September 2017

Namibia: Venaani Blasts Govt Over Land Conference Postponement

SWAPO is either not serious or is clueless about dealing with the burning land issue, DTA of Namibia president McHenry Venaani said yesterday.

He said this at a press conference, where he also announced that his party had postponed its own "preparatory internal" land conference which was supposed to take place this week.

The DTA's postponement follows shortly after President Hage Geingob announced the postponement of the national land conference, which had been scheduled for this month.

The DTA's land conference was supposed to have run from yesterday to tomorrow, and would have produced a position paper which was to have been presented at the national land conference.

"We cannot hold our land conference if the agenda of the national land conference is not known. We are supposed to go and table an alternative position at the conference, so we should know what the issues at stake are," Venaani stressed.

Last week, President Geingob postponed the second national land conference to next year, saying various interest groups had raised concerns about not being given sufficient time for consultations.

The land conference was initially scheduled for late last year, but was also postponed due to a lack of funds at the time.

Venaani said no clear reasons have been provided as to why the conference has been postponed again, claiming that the reason that there was a lack of consultation was not justifiable.

"We are hearing the proposition of government postponing because of consultations, but there are no justifications [why] consultations were not done. To postpone the land conference means government has no idea how we are going to resolve this matter in this country," he stated.

He said the postponement was also an indication that the Swapo government was engaged in party politics with national issues, and was not serious about solving such issues.

"It means to us that Swapo is playing politics with the land conference because they want to finish their internal party elective congress first, and attend to the land conference later," he added.

According to Venaani, there are three key issues that government should address in order to maintain peace and stability in the country. Firstly, government should set a date for the land conference, which will determine the time frame needed for public consultations.

Secondly, government should stop all resettlement activities and farm purchases "because the resettlement scheme stinks of corruption and nepotism".

"We will not want to see a situation where the land conference is put on hold while government wants to continue resettling people in the manner they are doing now. That will create serious problems," said Venaani. And thirdly, government should release the list of beneficiaries of the resettlement programme.

"They talk about political accountability and transparency, yet government has refused to provide the beneficiary list for resettlement farms," the politician continued. Earlier this year, the land reform ministry's permanent secretary, Peter Amutenya, said the ministry was not going to release the list of resettlement beneficiaries because it was "sensitive".

Venaani added that access to urban land and ancestral land rights should also feature prominently at the second national land conference.

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