It would be a missed opportunity if Namibia cannot in all earnest chart a new path and a new beginning towards a radical transformation on the land question.
After five days of reflections on various pertinent issues related to land, including what have been referenced to as sensitive and emotional issues, such as ancestral land right claims and expropriation without compensation, the land conference this week discussed its resolutions for adoption.
This cannot be considered as the most critical stage of the conference after the group discussions, which started on Wednesday after lunch and continued the whole of yesterday. This, properly, could be considered to be the most critical stage of the conference when most of the issues were subjected to some surgical interrogation in what could properly be seen as the intensive care unit of the conference.
This followed various presentations by different academic and organic presenters and of course by some impassioned ones.
This of course included those acting on impulsive intuitions rather than any foresight.
But these eclectic presentations is what may have made the conference broad, albeit without some major players as evidenced by the absence of some Ovaherero, Ovambanderu, Nama and Damara traditional leaders, as well as other civil society formations.
The absence of these formations, despite their pivotal self, cannot be said to have deprived the conference critical inputs. Surprisingly those present felt competently enough to be compensated for the absence of their fellows.
There’s hardly an area that one can say may not have been covered adequately, including the question of ancestral land rights claims. Perhaps even to the surprise of those with some legitimate and understandable misgivings about the organisation and even content of the conference.
The latter seemed to have been covered professionally and objectively albeit not sufficiently so. Perhaps not to the same degree and extent as the outside group may have equipped itself to this task.
But surely some myths surrounding this vexed question of ancestral land rights claims must have been demystified. Surprisingly also, and perhaps to the disbelief of many, only three of the 14 regions of the country are opposed to ancestral land rights claims.
But with the resolutions due for adoption this morning, and various matters related to the land question, surely the beginning of a long and bumpy road certainly is upon us.
Given the content of the various presentations, there’s no way one can say that this conference may have been an exercise in futility. Likewise there’s no way government, the host of this conference, and those who attended against the best advise and wishes of their kinspeople, would want this conference be seen as a sham that it has been seen to be.
Thus both the government and the other role players inside surely need to vindicate themselves by formulating resolutions that can ensure perhaps the first real beginning toward addressing in all earnest the land question at last.
Resolutions that do not pay all the various critical issues surrounding and related to the land question just mere lip service, as has seem the case all these years since the 1991 land conference resolutions.
If there is anything that the Second National Land Conference seem to be revealing, is that there are no reasons why most of the 1991 resolutions, 27 years after their adoption, have not and could not have been implemented.
Simply, there does not seem to have been the requisite political will, not to mention the deliberate political omission and non-commission in ensuring that even through the government resettlement programme, social justice prevails.
Through this programme, social justice could have prevailed but even up to this conference, the Ministry of Land Reform is unable and shy to show how equitable this programme has been by releasing the list of the resettled.
It is gratifying to see the head of state being fulltime at the said conference. This perhaps underlines the earnest with which his government, this time around, approaches this conference, and its adamancy to make the necessary serious beginning to addressing the land question.
So, the success of this conference may not as yet been cast until and when the resolutions speak for themselves later today. But telling from the various inputs since the beginning of the conference on Monday, one cannot but confidently foresee, if not expect, a new dawn for the land question, including then ancestral land rights claims.
But most importantly, this just the beginning. It is necessary that all embrace this new dawn to make a success of the resolutions emerging today from the conference, and to avoid the situation that befell the 1991 resolutions which literally been gathering dust in both then Cabinet and the Ministry of Land Reform.