Although the Presidential Commission into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution concluded its fact-finding mission on the much-awaited recommendations, it will only be made public once President Hage Geingob studies it.
Commission chairperson Judge Shafimana Ueitele last Friday presented the final report to President Geingob at State House on the progress the commission has made in its extensive ancestral land inquiry.
The commission was appointed on February 21 and started its work in March.
The 15-member commission went on the fact-finding mission to hear those who want to submit claims on ancestral land and the nature of the restitution, to define communities that have ancestral land, the size, localities and boundaries. However, Ueitele could not divulge much information regarding the recommendations that the commission has made in the report. “I can’t comment on the final recommendations before the President makes the report public. As soon as the president makes it public, I can comment on the recommendations. But before he makes it public, I cannot speak about that report, not even in a sentence or word. All I can tell you, there were expectations and people were happy,” Ueitele said.
However, he confirmed that some of the draft recommendations the commission submitted in December form part of the final report. At the time, the commission had recommended that demands by some communities for compensation of ancestral land are genuine and within internationally accepted standard practices.
The commission had also recommended that the government should provide land tenure security to farm labourers.
Geingob applauded the commission for its work to address the land question and he undertook to study the report before it will be made public. The head of state is hopeful the commission has unearthed the notion by some that “if you have land, you will be rich and that they are poor because they don’t have land.”
“We will study it. This report will be realised after a week or so. After we look at it, we will release it to the public and we hopefully expect constructive reactions and proposals,” Geingob remarked.
Ueitele said the commission carried the assigned responsibility with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism.
According to him, the commission reached all Namibians in their diverse culture and listened to every person without fear or favour.
“We can confidently say, the report of the commission of inquiry on ancestral land rights and restitution has laid a sufficient and basic ground for the government of the Republic of Namibian in consultation with the people and their representatives to formulate relevant regulations, policies and programmes to effectively address the land question in Namibia,” he said.
Ueitele said the commission covered all constituencies in Namibia for about eight weeks. Equally, he said the commission read and thoroughly analysed all written submissions and oral testimonies presented to it. A total of 8 391 citizens appeared before the commission, while 1 738 gave oral testimonies and 748 written submissions, making up more than 4 500 pages of written testimonies from the Namibian people.