• September 28th, 2020

Commission engages stakeholders on ancestral land

Steven Klukowski

KEETMANSHOOP - The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution has, as part of its preparations prior to public hearings paid a courtesy call to engage with the //Kharas region’s political and traditional authorities’ leadership in Keetmanshoop.
 The meeting took place yesterday.

Explaining the objectives of the engagement, commissioner Uhuru Dempers informed members of the media that it was firstly to introduce the leadership of the commission and its terms of reference to be shared with the relevant stakeholders.
 “Secondly, it is to explain the working methods of how we want to engage the public on the written submissions and public hearings mentioned,” he further explained.

He said the commission will rely heavily on feedback from the regional leadership on which are the intended spots to be visited in order to put up their travelling schedule since regional leaders know the layout of the region best. 
He further mentioned the fact that they will welcome any inputs from them on how to proceed on the way forward. “Our visits are furthermore for the purpose of confidence building, familiarization and to clear any issues of uncertainty prior to the hearings,” stated Dempers.

 Furthermore, he informed members of the media that engagements have been very positive and encouraging as they received pledges of corporation of all stakeholders engaged so far.

Responding on to what benefits these hearings will hold in for the general public, Shafimana Ueitele, the chairperson of the commission explained their terms of reference are quite broad.

“It is to hear those who want to submit their claims on ancestral land and the nature of the restitution, to define communities that has ancestral land and the size, areas and boundaries of these lands,” he said.

He continued that there are furthermore gravesites that are inaccessible, places that are named after colonisers and foreign nationals, hence it is part of their terms of reference to rename such places. “There are people that have sacrificed and given their lives for this country and for the past hundred/two hundred years, we have been repossessed and chased around in this country and we need to clear places of remembrance for all those people,” the chairperson said. 
The commission expects input from various stakeholders at the end of its mission.

“We will hear the community, draft submissions and make the recommendations in order to guide us on how to address issues concerned to our terms of reference,” said Ueitele.

The chairperson also made it clear that this commission cannot provide a pre-determined outcome of the inquiry as they can only tell what the community might gain out of it once it is completed. 
“We first have to listen to what the nation will tell us and then they will also propose to us the solutions that they want,” he said.

The commission can only answer the question of possible monetary rewards for claimants towards the end, once they have listened to what Namibians wants to tell them.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution was announced by President Hage Geingob on 21 February 2019 as indicated in a Government Gazette of 15 March 2019. It commenced duties since the start of March this year and their first two months in office has been dedicated towards planning, preparation, drafting working plans and the mobilization of human and financial resources.

 It has conducted meetings with different stakeholders among them political, traditional, civic and religious leaders based in Windhoek during the period 6-10 May 2019. 

The period for written submissions commenced on 20 May 2019 and will run until 21 June 2019. Guidelines on how to complete submissions has been advertised in newspapers. 
Public hearings will start on 17 June 2019 and will be concluded on 26 July 2019. 

Staff Reporter
2019-05-24 09:17:00 | 1 years ago

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