Namibia: Let's All Dialogue, Geingob Roars Ahead of Land Conference

The opening of the conference on land in Windhoek.
1 October 2018

President Hage Geingob yesterday called for "far-sightedness" to reign supreme this week as the nation descends on the all-important second national land conference, called to put a final nail in the coffin of the recurring land issue nationally.

Geingob is scheduled to open the conference this morning, despite en masse withdrawals from the event last week by the opposition, pressure groups and some traditional authorities.

Yesterday the Damara King's Council, whose members too demand that ancestral land be returned to them like most of those that withdrew from the conference before it, said it too would not attend the event. Last week Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba made last-minute efforts to avoid boycotts, inviting to his office Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukuro and other traditional and civil society leaders to hammer out consensus. His efforts were futile as the groups announced less than 24 hours later that they would not be in attendance.

Reasons for withdrawals ranged from ancestral land not being elevated to thematic levels of discussion, to urban land topics taking the backseat and Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma still being in his job.

But Geingob said the time was ripe to find a lasting solution to the land issue and, in a statement yesterday, called on all Namibians to confront the issue together.

"We can't have inequality, land dispossession and sit with our hands folded. All of us must dialogue with one another; find solutions as Namibians and act with urgency. We should do it the Namibian way, with sensitivity, far-sightedness and sustainability in mind," President Geingob said.

On ancestral land, Geingob has repeatedly maintained that this matter must be handled in a manner that does not undermine the constitution of Namibia or deepen tribal divisions. Geingob said the second national land conference is inclusive and he urged everyone to come on board and fully participate for the purpose of nation-building and making Namibia a better nation.

He said the hour has arrived for all and sundry to hold hands and move in the same direction, saying the land question needs to be addressed by all stakeholders. Geingob emphasised the need for all stakeholders to attend the conference so as to make their contributions towards the very important land question with an aim to find new ways to tackle the issue.

The land question must not be addressed in a manner that puts national peace on the line.

The President emphasised that peace, stability and dialogue are obligatory at all material times.

"I urge all Namibians to hold hands and participate fully in the spirit of Harambee and One Namibia, One Nation, guided by our collective desire to build a better and sustainable Namibia," he said. A political commentator who spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity late last week said Namibia was at a crossroads and called for government leaders to handle the conference maturely and in a manner that will not destroy unity in the country.

"If this conference is not handled properly, in terms of its outcome and resolutions, it would mark the end of the 'One Namibia, One Nation' slogan," he said. "People are slowly crawling back into their tribal cocoons but the conference has the potential to prevent that, by ensuring that national solutions that are in favour of all Namibians are found."

The land conference, under the theme 'Towards a Comprehensive and Sustainable Land Reform in Namibia', starts today and ends this Friday.

2018-10-01 08:10:10 2 hours ago

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