WINDHOEK – The demand for the return of ancestral land is for real, says the United Democratic Front (UDF).
In its position paper on land similarly titled, it views the Second National Land Conference which started yesterday as a “a gift to the posterity of those unborn and after us who will need access to unlimited, undefined, endless and perpetual posterity”. Despite the unhappiness about the planning and conducting of the conference, as well as its predetermined outcomes, the UDF nevertheless feels necessary to add its voice in addressing the land issue. In this regard it calls for a high level commission of inquiry to, amongst others, review the country’s negotiated settlement, ancestral land claims, resettlement and foreign land ownership.
Meantime, while the First National Land Conference of 1991 resolved that given the complexities in redressing ancestral land claims, restitution of such claims in full is impossible, most regions now acknowledge the loss of ancestral land as a result of successive colonial regimes.
So reads the consolidated report of the various regions of the country, which has been compiled following the reports of these regions after consultations countrywide last year and this year. As the last item on the programme yesterday, the various regions presented their reports. The regions agree that the issue of ancestral land must be exhaustively deliberated upon at the conference to find a common understanding on how ancestral land claims and restitution could be handled. In this regard the regions are recommending that the government commissions a survey/study to identify communities who have lost ancestral land under the injustice perpetuated by the former colonial regimes. They are further recommending that the survey/study should establish the sizes of ancestral land lost through colonial regimes in the whole country. They are also proposing that a special model of resettlement be developed under the Land Reform Programme to fairly address and partially restore the restitution of such claims.
However, the regions are also proposing that claims for ancestral land should be accompanied by factual historical and justifiable evidence. Other ideas advanced from the regions are that the government should establish an Ancestral Land Tribunal Commission (ALTC) headed by a judge to deal with ancestral land issues and the restitution thereof. For this purpose, they are suggesting that legislation be formulated to cater for ancestral land claims and restitution.
Notwithstanding the above recommendations and suggestions, some regions are feeling that ancestral land claims be avoided as it can be declared unconstitutional by a court of law. They hold the same view that due to the complexity of the issue, full restitution is not possible. They argue that this may advance the interest of some tribes and traditional communities at the expense of others. They stress that it could be difficult and complex to justify such claims in terms of geographical boundaries as overlaps might be evident. Other concerns are that the consequence of ancestral land claims may spill over into areas beyond Namibia’s boundaries hence it should be avoided at all cost. Some regions are cautioning that the constitutional provision that Namibia is a secular unitary state and that Namibians can reside and settle anywhere within the borders on Namibia should be maintained to uphold and preserve the integrity of the country.
Regions acknowledge the loss of land by communities due to the past discriminatory policies, laws and practices relating to land. They are suggesting that apart from the willing seller, willing buyer principle, the government should implement the expropriation method to acquire land within the framework of the law and rectify the injustice over the previous land acquisition.
The regions are further recommending that the government should avail adequate financial resources to acquire more land and redress land imbalance in the country. In this regard they are calling upon the government to consider increasing the annual budget of the Ministry of Land Reform to buy more land for the Land Reform Programme.
2018-10-02 10:18:10 5 months ago