President Hage Geingob has moved to placate communities that lost their ancestral land during colonisation by appointing a 15-member Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution on land.
The commission is chaired by Justice Shafimana Ueitele, who is deputised by University of Namibia lecturer Phanuel Kaapama.
Other members of the commission are Gaob Immanuel /Gâseb, Ryno Van der Merwe, Dr Helmke Jens Sartorius von Bach, Uhuru Dempers, Dr Marius Kudumo, Professor Lazarus Hangula, Reverend Willem Konjore , Neels Kooper, Josef Petrus Van der Westhuizen, Anna Fredericks, Nadia M Le Hane, Jeaneth Kuhana and Ingenesia Inge Murangi.
The Director of Resettlement in the Ministry of Land Reform, Ndiakupi Nghituwamata, has been appointed Secretary to the Commission.
Announcing the members of the commission, President Geingob said there is no doubt that the issue of dispossession from ancestral land requires concerted efforts for healing and provision of social justice.
He said the devastating effects and aftershocks of the brutal policies of colonialism and apartheid continue to reverberate in the psyche of Namibians to this day.
“The untold suffering experienced by our nation cannot be ignored or circumvented, but must be faced head on. Your experience and expertise is being called upon to interrogate these matters extensively in order to identify statutory and policy reforms that will help buttress our efforts to redress communities that were subjected to untold injustices, which resulted in the dispossession of their ancestral land.”
The commission, tasked to investigate ancestral land claims and produce a report that will assist government and affected parties to effectively implement the resolutions of the 2nd National Land Conference, will among others generate a common understanding and consensus on the definition of ancestral land rights and restitution, and commission a study to identify communities who have lost ancestral land.
The commission is expected to report to the president within nine months on its findings and make relevant recommendations.
Reacting to the appointment of the commission, NUDO leader, Vetaruhe Vetaa Kandorozu, said while he is happy that there has been progress in terms of implementing the resolutions of the Second National Land Conference, he was disappointed by the absence of a number of young people in the commission appointed by the president.
He said the wishes and aspiration of the young people will not be catered for by the old generation that has been planted in the commission.
“The situation of generational farm workers will not be catered well as their fellow young people who can feel their pain is left outside in the public domain,” Kandorozu said.
“I don’t see a tested historian as part of the commission thus they will rely more on oral history during the consultation period and no one will be able to justify during the finalisation of the document.
“The minority groups, more especially the marginalised San community, have only one representative which is not fair at all look at the historical facts.”
Kandorozu added that speaker after speaker at last year’s land conference confirmed that the San people were among the first people in southern Africa and Namibia in particular.
“Now one wonders why are they not represented in good satisfactory numbers…and how fair will the commission be to them.
He questioned why the san community were denied an opportunity to be heard and an opportunity to provide their experience as they were among the first people to be dispossessed and lose land at the hands of fellow natives and again white people
“There is no direct representative from the NNFU representing the voice of those from communal land what we call the reserve more especially from the Police zone. I see three formerly advantaged people whose ancestors took the land from us at the expense of the people in communal areas who were pushed away from what we call today commercial areas.
“Are they appointed to protect the stolen land….did the whites capture State House or what is going on?”