Geingob hails successful conclusion of ’inclusive’ land conference …Says it signified a mature democracy
WINDHOEK- President Hage Geingob has hailed the 2nd National Land Conference that he said was inclusive and successful, adding that Namibians demonstrated to themselves and to the global community that the country is a matured democracy.
“We have demonstrated that when we hold hands, and pull together in the same direction, even on emotive, vexing and complex issues, we are able to use dialogue and mutual respect, as our primary instruments of conflict resolution,” said Geingob.
He made these remarks during his closing statement at the Second National Land Conference in Windhoek on Friday.
Among the key issues resolved at the conference is the abolishment of the Willing Seller-Willing Buyer, a primary method of land acquisition, and agreed implement the expropriation of land within the confines of Namibian constitution, which involves just and fair compensation as stipulated in the supreme law.
Similarly, the land conference resolved that government establishes a commission to investigate ancestral land issues, and to make appropriate recommendations to government.
“It is possible that the historic nature of this conference is yet to be internalised,” said an enthusiastic Geingob.
“Current landowners must make more land available for sale and not only barren land. The conference gave us a clear mandate to proceed with expropriation of land owned by absentee Landlords, as well as underutilised land,” he said.
“We will unpack and define just compensation in order to deal with the stumbling blocks we experienced in the past. Enabling legislation and policies will accompany this process in the coming months,” Geingob said.
Expropriation with fair compensation, will moderate land prices, and will consequentially make government’s land acquisition program more sustainable, he said.
The President warned that land reform must be carried out in an orderly fashion and within the confines of the constitution.
“We are enjoined by our constitution to redress injustices of the past. Expropriation of land to redress past injustices, or in the public interest, is not unconstitutional,” he said.
Concerns around access to land can be resolved through the legal reform of policies and laws.
“Our constitution permits expropriation, whether the owner is willing to sell or not. What the constitution does not permit is arbitrary deprivation of property,” he added.
Geingob assured investors not to panic and that the law which protects property rights will be respected.
“Let me reassure you that Namibia remains committed to maintaining and improving the business and investment environment. However, we cannot allow inequality to prevail at the expense of retaining the status quo,” he said.
A report tabled at the national land conference this week said 995 000 people out of Namibia’s total population of 2.4 million live in informal settlements.
Geingob said this land conference is a seminal moment in the country’s history that all Namibians should be proud of.
“When we finish the short-lived celebration of the successful conclusion of this inclusive, we will embark on the long-term goal of restoring the dignity of all our people,” said Geingob.
“But hard work lies ahead. We will encounter many challenges along the winding road of policy-formulation, legislative reform and implementation,” he added.
Additionally, Geingob said we must all realise that the integrity of our Namibian House rests on the foundation of peace, stability, unity and the rule of law.
However, for these foundations to remain intact, we need to ensure that we are living in a just and fair society, a society in which the mantra of “No Namibians must feel left out” permeates every facet of our coexistences.
Geingob says it is a privilege to be a President of a nation that believes in dialogue.
He said it is also a privilege to be the President of a nation whose Founding and Former President spent five days sitting in a conference to listen to the voices of the people.
“This was like a five-day university class, as I believe that every single one of us, myself included, learnt new things from the insights shared at this conference,” he said.
Geingob said the lesson of the conference serve as a cautionary tale to land owners about the importance of sharing. He said there is also a cautionary tale to those who seek land, not to do so at the expense of others.
He said another cautionary tale is the importance of competent and fair implementers of high integrity.
“In recognition and honour of the insightful contributions, camaraderie and unity of purpose demonstrated; I assure all delegates today, there will be a break from the past,” he said.
“Significant changes will take place after this conference,” he added.
The Head of State says while we remain constrained by limited financial resources, there are many low-hanging fruits which can be reaped in the short term by simply challenging mindsets, streamlining processes and ensuring the necessary political will.
He said in this regard, the President implore all political parties to understand that to play politics with the land issue is to play with the lives of our people.
Geingob says if there was ever an issue the nation needed to resolve outside of our tribal, racial, and political identities, it is this issue of land.
Additional reporting AFP news agency
2018-10-08 08:10:10 10 months ago