12 September 2017

Namibia: Land Meeting On or Off?

Photo: Wikipedia
Herero prisoners of war, around 1900.

Windhoek — By the time of going to print yesterday it has not been confirmed if a follow-up meeting by farmers following up on the first meeting held on August 19 which was scheduled for this Saturday will go ahead as scheduled or whether it has been postponed, especially in view of the indefinite postponement of the Second Naltional Land Conference.

The convener of the meeting, Albert Tjihero, was by late yesterday afternoon still scurrying around trying to get hold of the facilitators to consult them whether the meeting should go ahead or not. But later Tjihero could not be reached. The first meeting in the capital on August 19 brought together more than 100 part-time farmers, who work in Windhoek.

The meeting was the initiative of veteran farmer Albert Tjihero who sought to bring together farmers to brainstorm on the envisaged Second National Land Conference, which has now been postponed until further notice, as announced by President Hage Geingob a fortnight ago to allow for thorough and broader consultations with affected land lobby groups.

Tjihero, viewing the first meeting as a success, reiterated his position that those attending need not have similar views on the land question, but that it is important for farmers to express their views on the question of land for the benefit of those who are going to attend the Second National Land Conference as delegates. He also reiterated that the meeting does not belong to any particular organization, but is meant purely to enlist the concerns of farmers, so that such concerns may be taken to the envisaged Second National Land Conference by delegates to the said conference.

Tjihero said one important outcome of the August 19 meeting was the recognition of the absolute need for farmers before the next meeting to be appraised of the agenda of the envisaged conference, as well as all other relevant documents pertaining to it.

Happy with the turnout at the last meeting, Tjihero nevertheless wanted to see more people attending, as well as constructive inputs from those attending. He was also disappointed with the conspicuous absence of traditional leaders at the meeting.

Those attending the meeting on August 19 raised various questions, like lack of trust in the government to handle funds, supposedly promised by the German government for the acquisition of land for distribution to the descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama.

A need was also identified for unity among the landless and dispossessed, and for them to speak with one voice before the planned land conference. Attendants also wished for various political parties, like the DTA of Namibia, Swanu of Namibia and the National Unity Democratic Organisation, to harness their collective powers and energies to ensure a common position on the vexed question of land and to speak with one voice.

Concerns were also raised at the August 19 meeting on how the landless are going to be represented at the planned conference in view of the seemingly fragmented positions on the question of land, as represented by various splinter organisations?

Another pertinent concern was whether resolving the land question by radical measures, especially expropriation, would be viable given the entrenched property rights within the Namibian Constitution. The interchangeable use of terms such as "settlement" and "resettlement" was also a matter of concern to some who attended the said meeting.

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