Govt, genocide victims clash ahead of land conference

08 June 2018 Author   Rosalia David

Government finds itself at loggerheads with traditional leaders following its decision to exclude some, when it selected the High Level Committee (HLC), a grouping to steer the planned Second National Land Conference later this year.Government finds itself at loggerheads with traditional leaders following its decision to exclude some, when it selected the High Level Committee (HLC), a grouping to steer the planned Second National Land Conference later this year.

This comes amid allegations that government had deliberately omitted discerning voices when the committee was appointed in April.

According to the Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Vekuii Rukoro, the inclusion of representatives of pro-government Chiefs and Genocide Committee,  in contrast to the total exclusion of representatives of the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Genocide Committee (OGF), the Landless Peoples’ Movement (LPM), the Association of Nama Traditional Leaders, and the Daman Traditional Authority of Gaob Justus Garoeb, makes the land conference an exercise in futility as it continues to marginalise the landless communities. 
“In its proposed format, the land conference is fatally flawed and is thus doomed to fail, as it is designed to continue to entrench the privileges of the imperialists, neo-colonialists, and the new tribal cabal that is seeking to capture our structure of governance,” Rukoro said.
He said the composition of the HLC demonstrates the determination of the current government to continue with its present strategy, policies and practices of excluding the genuine leadership of those traditional communities who lost their ancestral land due to colonial dispossession or genocide.
“The fundamental principle of the Namibian House is inclusivity, so that no one should feel left out. Yet, the composition of the HLC militates against such a principle, as it deliberately excludes certain people,” the chief said.
Rukoro said the government move mirrors its fight against his inclusion in the genocide negotiations.
“They want to discuss land issues without our participation, nothing about our land without our representatives,” he said.
Former Land Reform Deputy Minister, Bernadus Swartbooi, said the HLC consists of idiots and people who are incapable.
“The land conference will not be a success because the people on the forefront are useless. This is just another way of bribing people and making sure they look good to the United Nations. Even if the land conference happens, nothing will be implemented,” Swartbooi said.
He lashed out at the ruling party, and accused it of having buffoons and corrupt criminals among its rank.
“How do you expect the conference to be a success if it consists of pathetic people who do not have the interest of the nation at heart? A party which has blood on its hands. If this is the way they are handling things, I foresee that this government will end up using the military to force people to remain loyal to SWAPO,” Swartbooi said.
The High Level Committee is the highest decision making body in preparation for the second National Land Conference. 
The committee shall be chaired by the Minister of Land Reform, Uutoni Nujoma, who will be supported by an Inter-Ministerial Committee comprising of Permanent Secretaries of agriculture, safety and security, attorney general, works, education, environment, finance, urban and rural development and office of the vice president. 
The Second National Land Conference is expected to adopt policies, programmes and measures that could accelerate the land reform programme in a democratic and sustainable manner for the mutual benefit of all Namibians.
The land conference is planned to be conducted in two phases: Regional consultations will take place in the 14 administrative regions of the country leading to the National Conference in Windhoek.
Regional conferences are aimed at engaging ordinary citizens at regional levels to debate on land issues and adopt recommendations. 
The outcomes of regional conferences will then be transmitted to the national conference for further scrutiny and consideration.
The office of the president referred questions from the Windhoek Observer to the Office of the Prime Minister, whose spokesperson, Saima Shaanika, promised to respond to the enquiries, but was not reachable afterwards.

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