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Post-colonial land dispossession style in the offing?

2018-10-26  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Post-colonial land dispossession style in the offing?
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One cannot but wonder whether there is sequel three regarding the Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov’s much talked-about purchase of four farms in Namibia.

Sequel three in terms of further illumination of the matter, which seems to get more puzzling every time further explanation of the deal is made.

This is because despite the latest explanation, sequel two notwithstanding, the country is nowhere close to any convincing. As the saying goes, when two elephants are fighting, it is always the grass that suffers. 

While both the government and watchdog political parties have been playing to the public galleries, there has been little illumination on the matter.   With this, the public are left more confused than they were before. 

This brings us to sequel three, as if this may in anyway provide the necessary accountability the country is craving for in this matter. Amidst the political merry-go-round, one detects little moral or ideological disposition. This is especially given the wholesale of land to a foreign national via backdoor as much as there is nothing in law criminalising the selling of land to foreign nationals. 

The deal is amoral and ideologically bankrupt,   having been masterminded prior to the Second National Land Conference, and becoming public knowledge shortly after it.  

One cannot but start to think if perhaps this may not have been done in fear of a radical transformation on the land reform frontier following this land conference? The spirit leading up to this conference, by the government’s own disposition, is instructive. “Enough is enough. We can no longer afford a market that is only efficient for the few. We can no longer afford a bureaucracy that only works for the powerful. The status quo has to change. The market is controlled by people. The bureaucracy is made up of people. You are the people. If we want to change the market to be more equitable and the bureaucracy to be effective, then WE need to change. We, the people need to become more equitable, more efficient and more respectful of the inherent dignity of others. For the status quo to change, we have to change,” were the exact words of President Hage Geingob at the opening of the land conference earlier this month. 

From the instructive and inspiring words of the president, denoting an ideological shift somehow, albeit not a radical one, one would have thought this is an ideological seed that must have been planted and sowing for some time now,  and well ahead of the land conference, to mitigate against such a daring land deal, let alone any thought of it.  

But alas there it is and here we are. This makes it all the more urgent that the resolutions from the land conference earlier this month be implemented in all earnest but with the necessary cautious haste to forestall any continuous wholesales in the Sardov aftermath. 

Until the land resolutions are implemented in their fullness, it is all the more necessary to put a moratorium on all land deals, even on the resettlement programme, to put an immediate stop to land theft and land wholesale that obviously seem to have been ruling supreme.  

Yes, the government’s may truly have been motivated by all necessary albeit not sufficient considerations of encouraging investment in land, as opposed to wholesaling land to foreign nationals. As much it may have been legitimately and rightly driven by experiences such as Ongombo West, once a blossoming horticultural haven for exports, but now a former shadow of itself and in state of complete deterioration if not productive paralysis after veterans have been resettled on it. But this is and cannot be any and only reason whatsoever to continue to disregard if not ignore, the real and continuing land hunger in the country among the indigenes land dispossessed at the expense of presumed investment in land as per the Sardov-Gov deal. Lest this become the norm, if not already the easy way out for foreign nationals getting access to land. 

One cannot but be reminded of the plight of the Ovitoto communal farmers in the Omatako Constituency where hunting farms were allocated to private individuals and/or instances, which was a slap in the face of the local indigenous farmers crying for land, Since, this matter seems altogether dead and buried. This, and lately the Sardov farms, and what else who knows, as there may still be many cats in the bag, the land conference notwithstanding, are the signs of the times which if they go unchecked and not arrested, will see the loot of the land in an unprecedented fashion not even akin to colonial times which heralded the landlessness and dispossession the land conference sought to revisit. Beware, a new mode of land dispossession may be in the offing. 

2018-10-26  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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