10 October 2018

Namibia: Only Three Youth Resolutions On Land?

Only three of the 163 resolutions emanating from the just-concluded Second National Land Conference makes any reference, relates to or cater either for the youth and/or students.

This is despite the clear and strong plea from the youth representatives at the conference, among them Josef Petrus van der Westhuizen, for the land conference to address many of the problems bedeviling students in particular, and the youth in general. "We are privileged to be part of the 2nd national land conference to help shape the agenda that will continue affecting us and our children and children's children that we know has been shaped by us for the better. There can be no discourse without us - the majority of this population - about what will affect us," said van der Westhuizen last week in his address to the land conference. Noting land as an instrument for economic emancipation, he drew the attention of the conference to the plight of young people migrating to urban areas for education, better jobs & better livelihoods. "The lack of adequate and affordable housing places young people at a disadvantage that although they are employed, they are most likely never to own a house at the current trend," he pointed.

Van der Westhuizen appealed to local authorities to partner with the youth to jointly come up with solutions that can help address the unaffordability of urban land. "Financial institutions also need to be incentivised to grant more financial instruments to young people to purchase land," he advised. He further emphasised the need for measures to address the housing shortage that is afflicting many students at tertiary institutions, who are forced to rent at exorbitant prices putting pressure on their parents to live in debt but also forcing them into crowded and inhospitable conditions. "The youth agenda is one of moving in the right direction as a collective, collective being the underlined word as there can be no decision that affects the youth being made without the youth," he said

Under the resolutions from the just-ended land conference pertaining to Commercial Land Reform Programmes, one of the resolutions on accessibility to land by women, youth, war veterans, Botswana returnees and persons with disabilities. Under the theme on Communal Land Reform Programmes, with regard to Land Allocation and Administration by Traditional Authorities and Communal Land Boards, the conference resolved that: Any board to be established must include youth, persons with disability, war veterans and women."

With reference to Urban Land Reform, specifically regarding access to finance for housing, a resolution reads that: "Local authorities in conjunction with relevant stakeholders to avail land for student housing for rental."

Youth activist Tuhafeni Hangula is dismayed most resolutions are centred-around communal and commercial land, which is the sphere of well-established adults and communities. "The specific needs of the youth were not taken into account, even the final report on the resolutions say very little -if anything at all -about the youth," he says. With regards to thematic area of Urban Land Reform Programme and related matters, Hangula says young Namibians in urban areas need land to build homes for their young families, as well as land for businesses such as auto mechanics, salons and other hands-on practical trades. "The conference has spoken nothing of this. Also, youths in rural areas did not receive priority when it comes to resolutions on land allocation for agricultural and/or commercial purposes," he stresses. Given that the majority of the population is made up of people under 45-years, the conference should have focused more on youths.

Hangula is particularly worried that the composition of the conference, which to him was not representative of the Namibian populations most affected by the land question, represented, among others organisations, by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) and the newly registered opposition political party, the Landless People's Movement (LPM), as well as the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA). "The boycott of the conference by noted political parties and traditional authorities speaks volumes on the integrity of the conference," he observes.

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