OTA livid over Geingob’s ‘provocative’ land remarks

03 August 2018 Author   Eliaser Ndeyanale

The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) has taken exception to remarks made by President Hage Geingob at the official opening of the Eenhana Expo on Wednesday.The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) has taken exception to remarks made by President Hage Geingob at the official opening of the Eenhana Expo on Wednesday.

OTA Secretary General, Mutjinde Katjiua, said Geingob’s remarks that “Namibia is our ancestral land therefore we fought for it and we got our ancestral land back,” were provocative. 
He said the ancestral lands issue continues unresolved as the Hereros, Namas, Damaras and San remain dispossessed of their ancestral land, adding that government is playing a very dangerous game by engineering a political outcome on the land issue that is detrimental to the long-term interests of the dispossessed.  
“We are not taking government's political machinations lightly, the statements by President Geingob are equally inflammatory,” Katjiua said.
He said northerners should avoid stirring emotions on ancestral land claims that will cause instability in the country. 
Social commentator, Uazuva Kaumbi, said the fact that northerners are the majority in the country should not mean that they can decide on behalf of the communities that lost their ancestral land through colonialism. 
Kaumbi said government should not rely on majority votes to take a decision on ancestral land because it’s not a matter of quantity, but rather of quality.  
He said those that lost ancestral land should speak for themselves and that the upcoming Second National Land Conference should not make decisions on the basis of a majority vote, but on the basis of restoring justice to those affected. 
“It is the democratic right of every Namibian to have a say in the land debates. However, when it comes to ancestral land, the views that should carry the most weight are those of the very people who lost ancestral land.  We all know as a matter of fact that the northerners did not lose ancestral land.
“The northerners should not use their numerical superiority to bulldoze the land conference into accepting their proposal.  Those that lost ancestral land must prove their claims, and that should be a necessary and sufficient condition for restitution, not a majority vote,” he said.
Kaumbi proposed that the people that lost ancestral land - Namas, Damaras, San, Basters and Ovaherero - must be given an open platform to present their case for restitution either individually or collectively. 
He said based on the evidence so presented, the land conference must then resolve to restore the ancestral land rights to the original owners because the indigenous people’s identity is rooted in their relationship to land, and thus for them to preserve their cultures, they need control over their ancestral land and natural resources.
Former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, said he believes that the country’s resettlement programme is not fair. 
“If resettlement is being run fairly and inclusively, I don’t think there would be anyone talking about ancestral land. Let’s push for equitable, fair and inclusive land redistribution if we want to address the land question once and for all,” he said.   
Land Activist, Henny Seibeb, warned that if the land question is not resolved it would lead to further agitation and radicalism of land dispossessed communities, which could result in illegal land invasions all over Namibia. 
Seibeb suggested that government must deal with the land question in accordance with the views, hopes, expectations and experiences of land dispossessed communities. 
He added that the conversation regarding ancestral land should predominantly be driven by the affected communities, who reside south of the red-line. 
“The fact that many compatriots from the north of the red line have proposed that land be expropriated without compensation actually shows that they do in fact support ancestral land restitution. This is because land acquisition, without any compensation, can only be premised on land dispossession which affected communities south of the red-line,” he said.
Seibeb further said that the communities north of the red line were not affected by land dispossession, genocide and loss of land. 
“They are still residing on their ancestral land. Even today, they still refuse to share land with the rest of Namibians, especially with those communities south of the red line, hence we don't see south of the red line communities being settled in present day Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango East and West and Zambezi regions. This is divisive and not in the spirit of One Namibia, One Nation.”
University of Namibia Professor of Public Law, Nico Horn, argued that the people south of the red line have a right to their ancestral land in terms of international law.
“The conflict that it may cause with the people of the north is a political issue and not legal. It asks for a political answer. But the government cannot prevent the people who lost land in the colonial era from approaching the courts,” he said. 
Horn said he doubts that the Namibian government would be able to buy all the farms that are subjected to ancestral land claims since the present owners of the land have a constitutional right to be compensated in terms of Article 16 of the Constitution.
“My suggestion would be that the government approach international donors,” Horn said.

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