WINDHOEK- The characterisation and labelling of the land question as controversial and emotive, rightly or wrongly, continues to haunt it.
The ink on the resolutions of the Second National Land Conference has hardly dried on the land indaba resolutions with correctness and authenticity of one of the resolutions being questioned. This is the resolution under point no.3 under the Commercial Land Reform Programmes thematic area. It deals with the resettlement policy and the resettlement criteria. The “ration of land allocation between dispossessed communities, war veterans of the liberation struggle and their dependents should benefit from the 70 percent share while 30 percent is for the national pool,” reads the particular resolution.
It is the 70 percent to 30 percent ratio that seems to be irking some of the participants, especially the land dispossessed, suspecting that the lumping together of the land dispossessed with liberation struggle war veterans must have been sneaked into the resolution because there is no consanguinity between the land dispossessed and war veterans. Ovaherero and Ovambandru traditional leaders who attended the land conference have written to State House, maintaining that the land dispossessed is a beneficiary category on its own whose claim is based on genocide and the resultant land dispossession, especially ancestral land, and thus cannot be lumped together with war veterans. Rather, war veterans must be categorised in the 30 percent group with the other would-be beneficiaries.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Mbeuta Ua Ndjarakana, also does not recall the land dispossessed and war veterans being in the same category of beneficiaries for the 70 percent as per the said resolution but that war veterans being with other beneficiaries under the 30 percent and the land dispossessed in their own separate group as 70 percent beneficiaries in the would-be allocation of land. Okakarara Councillor, Vetaruhe Kandorozu, has also raised the same issue with the authorities. In a letter to the President dated October 9, in what he refers to as a “material misstatement” such was hidden from the delegates at the land conference only to be “inserted through the backdoor” registering his disappointment and requesting the President to prevail upon the land conference’s secretariat to restore the original resolution.
How, if this seems to be the understanding of some of the participants in the land conference, this resolution came to be reflected as it has been in the final resolutions, is a million dollar question, especially in view of the fact that the final resolutions, including this one, is an official record of this conference, represented at the highest level of government, and the second in command in terms of the Namibian executive arm of government, the Prime Minister, its chairperson.
A strong sentiment about the ratio transpired last Thursday at the UN Plaza in Katutura where a group of civil society players, predominantly representatives of the Ovambanderu and Ovaherero traditional leaders, gave feedback to their communities on the land conference’s resolutions. Present among these traditional leaders were supreme chief Tjinaani Maharero of the Maharero Royal House while supreme chief Manase Zeraeua of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority, and Killus Munjuku 111 Nguvauva of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority sent their apologies.
Providing feedback, one of the land conference’s High Level Committee (HLC) members, Zeenaro Jatamunua, was categorical about this ratio as currently represented in the official land conference resolutions as being a misrepresentation, informing the public on the occasion that a representation has already been made in this regard to the land conference secretariat, with this misrepresentation to be followed up to the “auditing” of the resolutions, if needs be.
The President of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob, hailing the conference a “resounding success” has already acted on the spirit of some of the resolutions of the land conference, like directing the Attorney General, consulting the Minister in the Presidency to submit names for the Commission on Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution. The said resolution exactly partly speaks to this. And as much to war veterans. Closing the land conference, this is what the President had to say: “I have taken note that most regions have recommended that communities, who were dispossessed of their land, should be given special preference when it comes to resettlement.” Similarly regarding the voice of the veterans, the president had this to say: “They said that the whole of Namibia is our ancestral land.”
This is the balancing act of the government. The voice of the traditional leaders can as much be understood in the context of the pre-and post-conference cultural and civic society shenanigans between attending and not attending the land conference, between those who attended eventually and those who did not and as to who is the ultimate victor.