12 June 2018

Namibia: LPM, Nudo Want Nujoma Fired

The Landless People's Movement and the National Unity Democratic Organisation yesterday called for the sacking of land reform minister Utoni Nujoma by the end of the month.

While demanding Nujoma's dismissal at a media event yesterday, LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi branded the ruling Swapo Party a party of "lies and fictional creative storytelling" that had no interest or intention of solving the problems of the poor.

This he said, was clear from Nujoma's remarks about the government not being interested in resettling the poor on "expensive farms", along with other statements by senior Swapo leaders, including President Hage Geingob and vice president Nangolo Mbumba.

While condemning the allegedly "anti-poor" statements Nujoma allegedly made during an interview broadcast by South Africa's eNCA last week, Swartbooi said Nujoma must either voluntarily resign or be fired, and should apologise to the nation because he "has no understanding of the role of government and the law".

Swartbooi said poverty eradication pledges made by the Swapo-led government were "a lie" because the government was only interested in keeping "Africans underdeveloped and oppressed", while enriching a small black elite and maintaining white privilege.

Nudo president Asser Mbai also issued a statement yesterday condemning Nujoma's remarks, and called on the government to change the upcoming land conference's organising committee.

Mbai added that if the government failed to change the committee, Nudo would unite "with all land activists, movements and civil society organisations and organise a mass demonstration".

"The current Swapo leadership has clearly demonstrated that its government is not interested in resolving the land question. From now on and forever, we will emancipate ourselves from Swapo oppression. We will not stand aside and look while our poor people are being insulted by the minister and everyone else in the Swapo leadership," Mbai stated.

Nujoma was quoted by eNCA as saying that the government would not give farmland to poor people because they do not have the capacity to run "expensive farms".

The minister added that land would only be given to those classified as "middle class" and entrepreneurs, who can contribute to the country's GDP.

"You cannot resettle a person from an informal settlement, and hope that they will succeed on that farm. We would like to resettle people who will really make a significant contribution to the GDP. If you give a very expensive farm, for example, to a poor person, how will they run it?" Nujoma asked, adding that it had been proven elsewhere that "not everybody can run a farm".

Although Nujoma has subsequently claimed that eNCA misrepresented his statements, Swartbooi said Nujoma's response to questions on land clearly illustrates government's approach to land reform and poverty, as well as "its disrespect towards landless Namibians".

The LPM leader also claimed that the ruling party was not ready to take over government at independence, as they were "a tired and semi-literate organisation", which sold out to the "former colonisers" at the expense of the masses.

According to him, Nujoma's eNCA remarks show that Swapo leaders compromised on the land question because they were "tired of being in the bush", and that they had no intention of solving socio-economic challenges at the time, but only "securing government positions for themselves".

"We can now say that they have been lying to us for calling themselves revolutionaries. They sold out, and they continue to be gatekeepers of what they had settled for. They can no longer be trusted to lead this nation," Swartbooi stressed.

Despite branding the proposed land conference "a political showman's game, which is devoid of any real capacity", Swartbooi said the LPM would still consult other concerned groups to come up with a policy paper, and to participate at the land conference.

He said any resolutions of the land conference should address the urban land question, as well as the removal of the "red line".

He added that if the government failed to adequately address the land question, the LPM would then stage "major land invasions", starting with the farms of absentee landlords and state land, including Etosha and the Waterberg National Park. Nujoma yesterday did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking his comment.

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