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Land conference came but is by no means gone

2018-10-19  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Land conference came but is by no means gone
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The Second National Land Conference has come. And for sure some may say it is also now gone. Your columnist cannot but beg to differ with the posit that it has gone - with 63 resolutions having emerged out of it.

Thus until some, if not all of them, are implemented as they must and should be, there is no way the land conference can and must be said to have come and gone. And their implementation has as yet to start proper. 

No one can say none of the 63 resolutions would impact their lives in some way.
It would be naïve - not only ungrateful - for anyone to expect wholesome satisfaction from all the 63 resolutions, given the delicate balancing act to accommodate various competing interests regarding access to land.

This is a give and take balancing act and if all and sundry approach the implementation of the said resolutions in this spirit, and from realism and practical approach, then everyone can emerge from the implementation of the said 63 resolutions winners in one way or the other. 

No one can at this early stage of the resolutions, even before their implementation proper begins in all earnest, expect them to be fully baked. They may be half-baked as some may appear and sound to the various and differing interests groups, and understandably so, given that they were hatched in an extremely tenuous and compromising situation requiring a delicate balancing act. 

But the sober reality is that these resolutions are only the beginning, and they cannot be cast in stone.  It thus suffices to say that their implementation must be an open and transparent process as it must be meticulous as much. 

It must be possible to further refine them to allow for oversights, omissions and if you wish, unintended consequences. Thus a robust debate in this regard, regarding and surrounding the resolutions, must and should continue to pave the way for their effective and efficient implementation.  

Caution that this may not detract from the essence and principles on which they have been based. 
Hardly before any beginning towards their implementation, one has already been hearing some criticisms, aspersions and at times outright dismissal and/or rejection of some of the resolutions. This must be seen as part of the all-important process of their refinement. This columnist may single out in this regard one of the resolutions pertaining to Commercial Land Reform Programmes and related matters as one of the thematic areas. It deals with the accessibility of land by women, youth, war veterans, returnees from Botswana and people with disabilities. Thus providing for the review of “all policies related to land distribution to ensure the prioritization of women, youth, war veterans, Botswana returnees and persons with disabilities.” It is obvious from public discussions already that this resolution has been confused and projected as emanating from resolutions on the Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, which is not the case. There is nowhere that the resolutions under Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, speak to women, youth, war veterans, returnees from Botswana and persons with disabilities. But one thing is clear, is that this resolution may cut across and intertwine with resolutions on Ancestral Land  Rights and Restitution, especially as long as it recognises Namibian history, and by extension land dispossessions which resulted from genocide, which is the only context of the returnees from Botswana as far as their accessibility to land is concerned. 

The next chapter, needless to say, as far as the Second National Land Conference goes, whether you may have been party to it or not, is now the implementation of the said resolutions. This surely offers another window of opportunity, especially for those who may have missed the conference itself, to help refine the said resolutions and their eventual implementation. One cannot but take note of the president’s commitment and urgency at last week’s Cabinet’s land conference postmortem. “I was moved by the depth of skills of Namibians at the Second National Land Conference and I have no doubt that we will be able to appoint a formidable and inclusive team to the Commission,” he said with regard to the Commission to look into the matter of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution. This is one of the resolutions emanating from the land conference pertaining to this specific thematic area. 

Yes, questions abound, among them whether anything substantive was resolved at the land conference pertaining to ancestral land. Yes and no. But is this at this stage perhaps not an academic question. Instead of head-on tackling the said Commission to help its architecture if the spirit of the president is anything to go by. The Commission simply has not taken any shape, but how can it be taking the proper shape without the requisite and pivotal ownership of it by the land dispossessed? By now names may have been presented to the president who last week directed the attorney general and the Minister in the Presidency to have submitted names to him by the Tuesday of this week. This is only the beginning so to speak and those claiming to have this matter at heart better put their words, minds, energies and deeds to this act, and all the resolutions to ensure their effective implementation. 

2018-10-19  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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