Freedom of speech is a constitutional right of all the people in Namibia but when people exercise this right they also have to be careful and sensitive to other people’s feelings and rights.
In other words, if one exercises their freedom of speech they must do so in a responsible, polite and considerate manner and avoid to offend other people.
If a person expresses their opinion in their personal capacity and in the process tramples upon other people’s rights or annoy such people, they will have to face the consequences as an individual.
I was shocked when I read an article in the local newspaper which apparently quoted Swapo Party Elders Council (SPEC) secretary Mukwaita Shanyengana, who was speaking on behalf of our party’s senior citizens.
It is said in that article that apparently SPEC, to which some of us are card-carrying members, has decide that a “resolution which will be adopted by the second national land conference relating to the issue of ancestral land should not be implemented.
The views of those who support this idea is apparently that the issue of ancestral land is associated with tribalism and division and could also cause civil war.
I am afraid to say that this view is dramatically opposed to the principles of restorative justice and fair correction of the evils of the past disastrous historical colonial land expropriation. The fact remains that some communities did not lose their ancestral land and they do not feel the pain and desperation of those whose ancestors were forcefully removed from their land by colonial oppression.
It is indeed painful, unfair and illogical to insinuate that those who lost their land and are at pains to redress the past injustices are trying to stoke fires of tribalism and division in the country. As regarding the civil war comment, that war might not be provoked by those who are raising the issue of restorative justice, but by those who are hell-bent to suppress those who are seeking redress.
What is even more serious and totally inflammatory are reports that the SPEC secretary said that “those claiming ancestral land have an agenda with the help of the outside world to have this tribal thing and transform Namibia into a federal state.”
By implication this can be understood to mean that the secretary is implying that those who are raising the issue of ancestral land are committing the crime of treason in connivance with the outside world. This is a serious allegation and very unfair to those who lost their land. For anyone to connive with foreign forces to bring about political or structural change in the country is something that should never be tolerated.
Therefore if these allegations are true they must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. It is even unacceptable that these whole issues and allegations are made by someone on behalf of an organ of our party. Not all the elders are supporting that stance and this is tantamount to bulldozing every member into accepting such decisions.
The best way was to leave this emotive issue to the land conference to discuss it thoroughly. It is interesting to note that it was revealed in the local press that one businessman in the north bought a land from the municipality at the price of over N$1 million dollars, but someone came up with a protest that the land in question is his ancestral land where he is growing mahangu, therefore he must be paid N$3 million dollars for that ancestral land.
The municipality then decided to pay him over N$900 000 for the land. It is therefore suppressing that in some parts of Namibia, ancestral land is apparently recognised and compensated for while in other areas the demand of ancestral land is considered offensive and dangerous.
We have to correct the past historical colonial evils responsibly, diligently and fairly. We cannot promote unfairness and claim that we are trying to remedy the past colonial land expropriation.
* Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange is former minister of, amongst other portfolios, justice, who also served as secretary-general of the ruling party Swapo.
New Era Reporter
2018-09-28 10:15:09 9 months ago