Windhoek — Undoing apartheid's legacy on land distribution, such as the imprint of the so-called Ondendaal Plan, would require that Namibia dedicates the same amount of energy and resources to the issue ahead of the planned second national land conference in October.
These are the views of First Lady Monica Geingos, who noted that the Ondendaal Plan, though crafted for nefarious ends, was well researched and attained its covert gains of empowering whites ahead of blacks.
Geingos says in order to undo its deeply entrenched effects of Ondendaal, Namibia must deploy the same amount of dedication to the issue of land, which has become extremely emotive in the country.
In the early 1960s, as apartheid South Africa was ramping up its 'homeland' policy, her government commissioned a study into the creation of possible ethnic homelands in what was then South West Africa.
This controversial decision, in which some communities lost land, caused the United Nations to withdraw South Africa's administration mandate over Namibia and to request that such mandate be transferred to the UN.
South Africa ignored the United Nations' request and continued with implementing the racist plan.
"The Ondendaal Plan was well researched, despite its intentions," Geingos remarked on Friday during a dialogue on land organised by the One Economy Foundation, which she runs.
"We cannot undo what the Ondendaal Plan has achieved without applying the same amount of energy into research so that our decisions on land redistribution are based on concrete facts," she said.
Land, she said, should be seen as more than just an asset, as it is a crucial social safety net too.
The second national land conference, which has been postponed twice due to perceived inadequate consultation, is scheduled to take place between October 1 and 5.
Geingos said if the land question is to be satisfactorily resolved, Namibians must confront the issue as a united front and put aside parochial differences.
Those invited to the Friday dialogue included Job Amupanda, co-founder of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, a leading critic of government on land.
"We need to put aside issues of labelling each other and face this common problem as Namibians. Some people in the past took issue with [lawyer] Sisa Namandje representing AR leaders. Let's understand and respect each other's professional duties," she said to the audience that included Namandje, who also spoke at the event.
Geingos said some people questioned the wisdom of inviting Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi, a lawyer for South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party, to her foundation's fundraising gala dinner that took place on Saturday night.
"When it comes to issues as important as land, we must put aside politics and confront these common socio-economic enemies," Geingos, herself a trained lawyer and businesswoman, said.