The AR movement recently mobilised thousands of landless youth to hand in mass land applications to different municipalities across the country.
After the applications, leaders of the movement, led by Job Amupanda gave the municipalities a 31 July 2015 ultimatum for making land available, failure which would trigger a youth land grab.
Former youth minister Kazenambo Kazenambo last week criticised Government for not engaging AR, but Shaningwa claimed this week that the ball is in AR’s court.
The Rural and Urban Development Minister said in an interview on Wednesday that she had in fact spoken to Amupanda on three separate occasions since March.
“He initially called me after my appointment as minister to congratulate me, and on two other occasions he called and expressed the need to come to my office to discuss the Affirmative Repositioning issue.
“Due to my heavy schedule I requested him to make an appointment with my office, and from what I know, he has not yet made the appointment,” Shaningwa said.
The minister further said that she recently bumped into and briefly spoke to one of the AR leaders Dimbulukweni Nauyoma outside her office.
Nauyoma also committed himself to a meeting with the minister, but he never turned up.
“I’m still waiting for those requests so that I can slot them into my schedule, and maybe they are still coming,” the minister added.
Shaningwa said there was no love lost between her and Amupanda; in fact, his calls and text messages remained respectful.
“I must also say these are youth and their blood is still warm. If they have ideas they must come forward and we will sit around the table and discuss.”
Shaningwa indicated that she had not received any directive from her seniors in Government to engage the land activists, but that such a directive was not necessary.
“No directive is needed here. The president has entrusted me with this position and I have the authority to attend to matters relating to my ministry.
“I have the authority to meet with the group or its representatives, and only after I have heard what they have to say would I then report back to my seniors what they have communicated to me,” she said.
In contrast to the minister’s seemingly lack of urgency on the matter, Kazenambo urged Government to initiate a peaceful dialogue with the leaders of the AR movement.
“There is silence, especially from the Government, which should engage these people. Let us debate the issue. Democracy is not about suppression.
“The issue of Affirmative Repositioning needs a serious look. We cannot sit on the fence and observe an issue that is a potential time bomb,” Kazenambo said in an interview with The Namibian last week.
Shaningwa said she had given local authorities a clear directive to respect every Namibian who applied for urban land.
“If someone applied for land that is available in 1999 and that person is able to pay for the land, that town should allocate land to that applicant and not Sophia Shaningwa who applied in 2015, just because she is a minister.
“There should be absolutely no preferential treatment given to anyone when it comes to land allocations.
“I’m hoping those municipalities that have responded positively to the AR applicants have worked according to the list and attended to all those who applied first,” the minister firmly stated.
Meanwhile, an official from the properties department at the Henties Bay Municipality said that they followed the correct procedures when they allocated land to the AR leaders.
The official emphasised that at law the minister had the final say regarding the AR land applications.
“Yes the council approved the applications, but now it’s up to the applicants to advertise the private treaty at their own costs and wait and see whether anyone will raise any objections or not,” the official explained.
He said they would allow appeals in the case of upheld objections.
The official said they would send the entire application list to the minister for final consideration in the event that there were no objections.
“The process is far from over and not as straight forward as people think. Right now, the council still has to approve the minutes from the previous meeting, when they meet next.
“Even if the minister approves, the applicant must have the ten percent deposit ready by the date of signing and the remainder of the amount on the date of transfer. These are all stages where the municipality might have to reverse the process,” the official said.
Amupanda issued a press statement this week in which he shared a letter sent out to over 500 pastors and spiritual leaders, requesting them to pray for a solution to the land crisis in Namibia.
“The occupation of land is our last resort. We honestly hope that through the mass actions we have conducted, and those to come, our leaders will listen to our cry and resolve this matter, which has also attracted international attention.
“It is for this purpose that we are writing to you a) to pray for Affirmative Repositioning b) pray for our leaders to timeously resolve the land crisis and hear our cry,” the letter partly read.