WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob has announced the establishment of the long-awaited Presidential Commission into Claims on Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, calling on the commission to practice urgency, impartiality, professionalism and fairness in the execution of its mandate.
“In appointing you as members of the Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, I express my absolute confidence and trust in your abilities to execute the monumental task which lies before you,” said the President yesterday when he made the appointment. He said given the complexity of ancestral land claims, and in the interest of maintaining peace and stability in Namibia by ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the constitution are not infringed upon, he appointed the commission under the powers vested in him by Section 1 of the Commissions Act, 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947).
Thus, Geingob said, the appointment of this 15-member commission is in fulfillment of one of the resolutions of the Second National Land Conference. The commission will be headed by High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele, to be deputised by academic Phanuel Kaapama.
Other members include Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders Gaob Immanuel ≠Nu-Axa /Gâseb, Namibia Agricultural Union president Ryno van der Merwe, Agricultural Economist Professor Helmke Jens Sartorius von Bach, Namibia Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (Nangof)’s Uhuru Dempers and Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) International Relations Director Dr Marius Kudumo.
Others are former Unam Vice-Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula, former Environment and Tourism minister Reverend Willem Konjore, Neels Kooper, Josef Petrus van der Westhuizen and Anna Fredericks. Former Otjozondjupa Chief Regional Officer Nadia Le Hane, Jeaneth Kuhanga and Ingenesia Inge Murangi are also members, while Director of Resettlement in Ministry of Land Reform Ndiakupi Nghituwamata is secretary to the Commission. Geingob told the commissioners that he expect impartiality in the execution of their responsibilities.
“Your experience and expertise is being called upon to interrogate these matters extensively in order to identify statutory and policy reforms that will help buttress our efforts to build a united Namibian House,” he said.
He said by accepting the responsibility, they have made a public commitment to uphold the country’s constitution in pursuit of a long-lasting solution to this complex and emotive issue.
“You are expected to fulfill your responsibilities in an accountable and transparent manner. I am confident that given your credentials, expertise and wealth of knowledge, you will carry out your responsibilities with distinction,” the Head of State said. Presidential spokesperson Dr Alfredo Hengari said the commission is tasked to investigate ancestral land claims and produce a report that will assist government and affected parties to effectively implement the resolutions of land conference.
In a statement, Hengari said the terms of reference are, among others, to come up with a common understanding and consensus on the definition of ancestral land rights and restitution, the commissioning of a study to identify communities who have lost ancestral land and the establishment of the sizes of ancestral land lost and boundaries.
Also, he said the commission is further tasked with the investigation of possible unintended consequences of ancestral land claims and restitution, as well as appropriate mitigation measures (e.g. the issues related to perceived possible discrimination against other population groups) as well as the determination of how the claim on ancestral land should be premised on the human rights principle and standards guaranteed in the Namibian Constitution as well as international and regional human rights instruments binding on Namibia.
Nudo councillor for Okakarara Constituency and party presidential hopeful Vetaruhe Kandorozu yesterday said after he carefully scrutinised the terms of reference presented to the commissioners, he was of the opinion that a number of people or communities or groups were not represented.
He said those not represented include, among others, the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), the communal farmers union, people living with disability and also representatives of the Botswana returnees.
Kandorozu called on Geingob to relook into the team of commissioners and add those that are excluded, saying that it is very important because they feel excluded from what he terms as a very important commission.
“I see these commissioners as yes boys, girls of government, speaking the language of the ruling party, Swapo, thus I am confident that they will hardly go against the position of the Swapo Party if directed to do so. I don’t see any hardliners among them,” he said, adding that in terms of experience, he doesn’t doubt the team.
Also, Kandorozu complained about the “big number of whites” in the commission, saying they may protect white interest in land matters.
“This is totally not fair at all and is tantamount to a deliberate exclusion of the rightfully people who lost land,” he quipped.
2019-02-22 09:07:38 3 months ago