WINDHOEK –Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba last night said government has done everything in its power to accommodate the demands of groups invited to next week’s land conference, hence their mass withdrawals would not stop the gathering from going ahead.
Yesterday a coalition comprising Nama and Ovaherero leaders as well as civil society formations collectively withdrew from the conference, calling it “a sham not worthy of attendance by Namibians committed to resolving the land question justly and equitably.”
The official opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement also withdrew their attendance of the conference, replicating a similar stance by the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) a day earlier.
Speaking to New Era late yesterday, Mbumba, who is acting as head of state in the absence of President Hage Geingob who was attending the UN General Assembly in the USA, said government was at a point of no return as far as the conference is concerned.
“The conference must continue on Monday,” he said, echoing President Geingob’s confirmation in New York that the long-awaited gathering was on as planned.
“The effort has been made to accommodate those [boycotting groups’] requests in terms of representation, and many other things,” Mbumba said.
He appealed to all invited delegated to attend the conference tomorrow so that they are part of solutions to the land issue.
On Wednesday, Mbumba invited the coalition of Nama, Ovaherero and civil society leaders to his office in a bid to convince them not to boycott the event. Yesterday’s mass withdrawals show the VP’s attempt was futile.
LPM was the first on Wednesday to turn down an invitation by government, saying that the conference was a “political gimmick”.
LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi said they demanded that Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma be removed to pave way to land solutions.
Swartbooi fell out with Nujoma when they worked together as deputy minister and minister respectively, leading to the sacking of the now LPM leader.
Government seemed so determined to go ahead with the conference that the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology late yesterday sent an invitation for the media to provide news coverage to the official opening of the conference on Monday.
The conference will be held under the theme: “Towards a Comprehensive and Sustainable Land Reform in Namibia”.
Announcing the position of the coalition of Nama, Ovaherero and civil society leaders yesterday, Ovaherero Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro said the composition of the land conference was not broadly consultative.
He called for the conference to be called off for the good of the country.
“We shall not and cannot be party to such sham of a conference, let the government and its entities proceed with their mini Berlin Conference which is aimed at declaring a political and economic extermination order against the dispossessed of our people,” he said.
Rukoro said the conference do justice to the question of Damara, Herero, Nama and San ancestral land claims and restitution.
“It shall have planted the seed of injustice which in time shall destroy the peace and stability we hold,” he said, while chanting “aluta continua, ehi retu ngarikotoke (bring back our land)”.
PDM leader McHenry Venaani said his party will shun the conference “whose outcome is pre-determined and now we must be used to legitimise outcomes that are pre-determined.”
He said the refusal to release the list of resettlement beneficiaries creates unwarranted suspicions and undermines the fundamental ethos of transparency and accountability, which President Geingob repeatedly emphasised as key values driving his administration.
“It further deprives participants the right of informed consent, to have a constructive and meaningful contribution to the debate lacking in the facts on that list,” said Venaani.
“We, as the official opposition, find it extremely difficult to render our co-operation to such an activity.”
He said slammed the omission of traditional leaders not currently recognised by government, but who were participants in the first 1991 national land conference and hail from communities who are direct victims of ancestral land dispossession through colonialism.
AR leader Job Amupanda yesterday said, among many other reasons, the movement will not be participating at the land conference because they were invited at 11th hour and given few hours to confirm their attendance and their representatives.
“How does one consult and pick delegates in hours? Other delegates received their invitations months ago and had enough time to prepare while we only had a few hours,” he said at a press conference.
He added that the other reason is the 15 minutes allocated to present at the conference, which he deems very short.
He labelled the conference as “a choreographed, predetermined gimmick, sidelining urban land”.
Accreditation to the conference will take place at Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre, Sossusvlei Room, from tomorrow to Sunday.
2018-09-28 09:08:09 4 months ago