Rukoro threatens unrest over ancestral land snub

02 November 2018 Author   Kaula Nhongo

OvaHerero Paramount Chief, Vekuii Rukoro, has warned that government’s reluctance to address ancestral land claims would one day result in civil unrest. 

Speaking at a press conference in Windhoek on Wednesday, Rukoro said by not addressing this issue, government was inviting unrest and looking for trouble.
Rukoro said government has continued to put off the discussion on ancestral land claims for too long, starting with the land conference just after independence.
“During the first national consultation on land in 1991, the question of ancestral land was a prominent subject. 
“After intense deliberations, the conference resolved that because of the lines of demarcation for those who staked claims on ancestral land were blurred, full restitution of land rights could not be immediately possible.
“Today, the government’s strategy in the clandestine conference document holds that a discussion on ancestral land is impossible because, as the SWAPO Elders Council asserts, this will infuriate the people, but which people?”
In Rukoro’s view, the resettlement programme has only benefitted the rich and powerful at the expense of people or communities who lost ancestral land.
He said the victims of genocide felt betrayed by the sentiments of the Founding President, Sam Nujoma, and that of his predecessor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, at the Second National Land Conference.
The two former leaders expressed dismay with the inclusion of the issue of ancestral land claims on the agenda.
Pohamba said the issue of ancestral land claims should not be entertained as it is not in the best interest of the country and could be counterproductive.
He said talk of ancestral land can only lead to tension, divisions and civil strife in Namibia.
As part of its resolutions on ancestral land, government plans to establish a Presidential Commission of Inquiry that would commission a survey or study to identify communities who have lost ancestral land.
The enquiry will also establish the sizes of ancestral land lost and boundaries as well as incorporate a special provision in the resettlement criteria to fairly address the situation of the most affected.
The inquiry will further generate a common understanding or consensus on the definition of ancestral land rights and restitution.
The Windhoek Observer reported at the beginning of October that SWAPO Elders Council Secretary, Mukwaita Shanyengana, had advised delegates to the Second National Land Conference not to discuss ancestral land claims, saying it would lead to a civil war. 
Shanyengana said although resolutions on ancestral land might be taken at the conference, the government should not implement them because the issue is associated with tribalism and division, and could also cause civil war.
He said 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.
“The issue [of ancestral land claims] must be discussed at the land conference, but the resolutions on it should not be implemented. We have to protect the peace in this country at all costs, and we do not want to end up with civil war, like what happened in Angola and other countries,” Shanyengana said at the time.

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