WINDHOEK – The colonial wars that ensued following the arrival of German troops and eventually culminated in the infamous genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama people, between 1904 and 1908, dispossessed Namibians of their land, by force and without compensation, said President Hage Geingob when opening the Second National Land Conference in Windhoek yesterday.
He said the armed liberation struggle was launched under the auspices of SWAPO to restore the dignity of the oppressed people of Namibia, which includes access to land. The settler colonies of Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe faced the unique challenge of white people, of foreign descent, settling in these localities. Subsequently their children were born, and “by soil and by blood”, are descendants of the land.
The fundamental issue in Namibia today, inequality, comes from the history of colonial dispossession but the status quo will not be allowed to continue. “The concerns of Namibians around the slow pace of land reform, and those of the landless, are legitimate concerns and warrant our gathering here this week, to have this difficult conversation and resolve these issues. A situation where economic growth and prosperity are not shared will not be sustainable,” says Geingob.
While welcoming the voices of the land dispossessed, he urges that it must not be pursued through undemocratic means.
“We can resolve the land question within the ambit of the law, without entering into a state of lawlessness. We can pursue the constitutional mechanisms to achieve land equity. This is the position of the SWAPO-led government on land acquisition and this position stands, provided expropriation is carried out in the public interest.”
He expressed great concern about the plight of farm workers, adding that legislative interventions have been developed to protect the rights of farm workers but the emerging issue of generational farm workers needs collective consideration.
“Generational farm workers are expelled from land on which they were born and are dumped onto road corridors. All resettlement programmes should pay special attention to the plight of generational farm workers who themselves are inherently landless, more so when the farm they lived on all their lives changes in ownership,” said the president.
The Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture Programme for Namibia 2015–2019 indicates that the majority Namibian population is estimated to be living in rural areas where majority depend on smallholder crop production as a means of livelihood and survival. Despite lower agricultural productivity of communal land, compared to commercial farmland, communal areas are becoming overcrowded due to population growth. Therefore, communal land expansion has become essential. “I caution however that communal expansion without resourcing to improve productivity may be at the expense of commercial farming output.”
The president says large-scale communal farmers who have outgrown the confines in the communal areas should buy farms in freehold commercial farming areas to allow for the opening of space for emerging communal farmers. But responsive financing instruments are required to support graduating farmers to move out of communal areas.
2018-10-02 10:16:10 5 months ago