• August 8th, 2020

Land conference: A need for finer details

Columns, Comment
Columns, Comment

Since last Monday there have been countrywide consultations by the government under the auspices of regional councils. Historically there are three regions that are most critical when it comes to the land question, especially in the contexts of dispossession, ancestral land and land restitution. These are Hardap, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa. Their centrality to the land question is obvious and unquestionable because the inhabitants of these regions historically bore the brunt of land dispossession, first by colonial Germany, and subsequently by Apartheid South Africa, for them to be inhabiting Bantustans that these regions still to this day essentially are. These consultations are not the first of their kind because last year there were similar efforts under the very auspices of the Ministry of Land Reform. Understandably reports were compiled and submitted. What may have happened to them to necessitate this second round of consultations is anyone’s guess. Then I had my reservations about the essence of such consultations. Because they pointed to a micromanagement of what could be diverse and politically undesirable inputs, in terms of proposals, especially those which could be considered “emotional” as the issue has been characterised, a euphemism for radical proposals, foremost amongst them, claims for ancestral land. But attending last Friday’s closing session of the consultations in Windhoek, I could not otherwise but have second thoughts about my initial reservations about the essence of these consultations. Especially listening to the input from the civic society, that had some fundamental proposals which were accommodated in the final recommendations. Most reassuring is the promise that the final recommendations would be posted on public platforms for those who may have advanced them to verify their originality, correctness and fundamentality. Looking at the various recommendations, most of which were from members of the civic society, albeit it seemed not in a representative and organised format, except for a few, but mostly from individual as much as some may have come from organised civic society. Actually most of the recommendations go to the core of the issues surrounding and pertaining to landlessness and land dispossession. Affecting mostly the downtrodden and those at the sharper end of Namibia’s socio-economic ladder. It is in this respect that one cannot but hail the consultations in Windhoek that I can attest to. But the interesting thing is that there seemed little interest, if the consultations in Windhoek last week, is anything to go by, from organised farmers associations, civic organisations, including traditional leaders. One must note and single out in this regard a strong contingent from the Khomani community, and understandably so, given its centrality to ancestral land claims in the Khomas region. Other than that some individuals whom one thought may have represented one or the other traditional authorities, seemed conspicuous in their silence in using the opportune consultations for what may turn out to be an essential input into the land conference which, one understands, will only accommodate 500 delegates. How such delegates will be constituted is anyone’s guess. But if the ongoing consultations ending today are anything to go by, the fear may not be baseless that those who matter to the land question, and or their representatives, may be excluded under the pretext that the views of the broader civic society have already been had via the ongoing consultations countrywide and the resultant recommendations. It is interesting who is going to represent such recommendations emanating from these consultations, and whether whoever, save for representatives of civic society in its broadest sense, shall ever do justice, and push for the adoption of these recommendations by the Second National Land Conference in October. With the Second National Land Conference, it is worrying that one has been and is hearing little as to how civic society is preparing for such with the exception of isolated civic organisations but whose thinking on the land issue at this late hour, and for some reasons, remains under wraps. One would have thought land is a crosscutting issue to most Namibians, the varying interests notwithstanding. Thus one interest’s group concept and thinking on land reform could just as well be a reflection of the next. Thus it could be ideal if these various interests could share their various position papers and if needs be consolidate such into one formidable position paper, something one doubts if there has ever been any inclination towards as late as it seems. Meantime, an agenda of the said conference is in circulation and is anything but impressive in terms of the representation and presentations of those who matter most, the landless. And from the various presentations one cannot also but start to question the objective of this land conference. Its content seems far from allowing the landless and land disposed to vent their sentiments, whatever they may be. On the contrary one detects an omnipresence at this conference of officialdom.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-27 09:29:49 | 2 years ago

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