25 September 2018

Namibia: NNFU to Represent Affiliates At Land Conference Without Consulting Them

With only six days before the Second National Land Conference, some of the affiliates of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) are still waiting for their farming umbrella body to show them and familiarise them with their position paper to the conference.

Not only this but are baffled how if the NNFU has any position paper on land reform and agrarian that it is going to take to the land conference how and when and by who such may have been compiled because some cannot remember having been consulted in this regard. One of these affiliates is the Omaheke Regional Farmers Union (ORFU). The chairperson of ORFU, Lesley Kauandara, speaking also on behalf of the Otjozondjupa Communal Farmers Union (OCFU), is also baffled how the NNFU could come up with a comprehensive position in the little time left and how such can really be able to accommodate the various concerns of its constituents spread all over the country. He says since the NNFU congress in the Kunene Region last year, which elected the current leadership, he cannot remember any consultations with the affiliates to compile a common position for the land conference, certainly not with the ORFU. He says at the very congress he suggested such an endeavour and nothing has ever come of it. This, albeit Kauandara, was not his only attempt to get the umbrella's body to formulate a position in anticipation of the land conference but most of them seem to have fallen on the NNFU's leadership's deaf ears.

Kauandara says as the leader of the Omaheke Region's affiliate body, he must have been an automatic invitee to such consultations but is not aware of ever being invited to such consultations if ever there were any. Because one of the issues that the land conference is going to discuss is land dispossession and/or lost land or lack thereof, hence there could not have been better people for the NNFU to have consulted in this regard than people like him and others in his region. Barring such consultations, and as late as they already seems, Kauandara is absolutely dumbfounded what position the NNFU would posit at the land conference, and how this given the lack of consultations, it could properly be said to be those of its affiliates.

Albeit Kauandara, the National Council (NC) is scheduled to meet the weekend of September 28, with the land conference starting thereafter on Monday, October 1. Thus he cannot see the NC doing justice in any way and in such short time to the issue. Unless it is going to present to the land conference its own executive position and not that of its affiliates. Meantime for Kauandara and others, it is "to the mercy of God" as he puts it in terms of their representation at the land conference.

The Mangetti Farmers Association chairperson Ismael Shailemo talking to Nuusita Ashipala from Oshakati, says the NNFU has no right to represent those farming at the Mangetti area as it does not know their needs. "If they (NNFU) is going to represent farmers then they should not include the Mangetti Farmers because we are not their members," Shailemo says.

He adds that if Mangetti is not getting a seat to represent itself at the land conference than it should remain unrepresented. "We would classify ourselves in the same bucket with every other citizen that feels unrepresented at such a crucial conference," Shailemo says.

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