• July 13th, 2020

Agrarian reform must be a tool for redressing poverty - Swartbooi

The country’s agrarian reform must be a tool for redressing poverty, inequality and unemployment, Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader and Member of Parliament Bernadus Swartbooi said on Monday.
Contributing to the land reform ministry budget motivation speech, Swartbooi said agrarian reform must address structural exclusion which resulted in poverty, structural unemployment and inequality for the black majority for so long. 
“The NEEF/NEEB proposed law is certainly not the way to redress past injustices. At a later stage, LPM will offer its full and critical expression on this proposal,” he said.

According to him, fundamental to any land reform programme, is that it must change the agrarian structure of the country.  
“In other words, black Namibians must enter the agrarian structure and among these blacks, we must be clear as to who must benefit from land reform,” Swartbooi said.

Furthermore, Swartbooi said, land reform must propel the country towards greater food sovereignty, which should include producing what the country consume, and build a climate resilient agriculture. “Black maize producers for instance should be created and promoted. Kalimbeza rice project is irrelevant to our needs. Agriculture financing in this country is entirely inaccessible for the vast majority of our people,” he said. According to him, this requires the Agribank to have a mission transformation, including the banning of the current loan scheme and to develop a new programme based on the individual’s total history and not financial means. 
At present, he said, the Agribank is a reactionary anti-black, anti-poor bank, captured by neo-liberal black elites, who have social and economic mobility, and are thus alienated from the agriculture sector.

“Land must be returned to those that lost land, and not be a generalised exercise of land acquisition and land allocation, without a political economic and sociological view of the land question,” he said. He said land reform should not just focus on productivity as the primary test, but must fully appreciate what the land means for the black populace, who have been for centuries, dispossessed and emasculated by colonialism. 
“Land reform must also make repatriation of //Khomanin and Bondelswarts a central philosophical and political process. If one day you visit Sore-sores in the Kunene, you will see that the elders’ grave at that settlement indicate huge death rates in the 60s,” he said.
This, he said according to the remaining elders, is because people felt helpless and forgotten, downtrodden and deserted, and died in short sequences due to depression and anguish. 
– ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na 

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-06-17 10:12:07 | 26 days ago

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