Foreign ownership of land dispels peace and stability

14 June 2019
Author   Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange
After protracted liberation struggle apartheid colonial rule came to an end and those of us who were in exile fighting against colonial oppression came back to our motherland. 
Although the process of change was felt, I knew something very important has not been resolved.  The land and natural resources were still in the ownership of those who benefited from apartheid regime and foreign nationals. 
The expectations of our people to have positive changes have been highly aroused by the independence.  I was convinced that all the changes in this regard will also come and our people will not be frustrated.  However, I also knew that this process will be long and difficult. 
The fact is that the land and property expropriation that was carried out by colonialists has left many Namibians in poverty and misery.  Many Namibians are landless in their own country up to this moment. 
The struggle for the independence of our country was not only to free ourselves from colonial rule, but also to return the land to its rightful owners.  The mere fact that the foreigners still own land in Namibia (which most of them got from colonial oppressors) should not prevent us to fight for recovering our land.
The government of free Namibia is aware of this situation, therefore it has been struggling hard and seriously to address this difficult issue and resolve it.  But there were and still are difficult legal, political and economic challenges which hamper the government.
Right now “a Mexican billionaire is set to become the owner of the Erindi Private Game Reserve”.  What surprises me is that Erindi is now considered to be unsuitable for resettlement purposes.  But historically we know that a part of the farms that make up Erindi was under Chief Maharero’s authority, while the other part was under the authority of Chief Zeraeua.  This huge area was inhabited by many people who were successfully farming until it was brutally expropriated by heartless colonialists. 
The area covered by Erindi Game Reserve is, indeed, far better than some areas in Erongo region, Aminius, Flood plains in Zambezi region and some areas in Southern part of the country.  Therefore it is unbelievable to hear that 71,000 hectares in the Erindi Game Reserve are apparently now unsuitable for farming.
I cannot help but conclude that the allegations that the Erindi is unsuitable are void of any truth; our President should not be misled by these allegations.  In fact the people who are saying that Erindi is bad for farming might even not know that Erindi is where very rich Ovaherero people were living in the past.  My great-grand father Tjiriange who also had thousands of cattle was also living and is buried in one of the farms which is in the same vicinity.  Our ancestors were pasturing thousands of cattle in that area; therefore I cannot understand why the area is today regarded as unsuitable for resettlement.
Another truth is that after the expropriation of the land by colonisers, some exploiters built a cold storage facility in that area and they were keeping cattle there before they were slaughtered.  It is against the abovementioned facts that those who bought that land from Imperial Cold Storage and Supply Company (ICS) did not buy it from the rightful owners but from other colonisers since they themselves came from South Africa.  
Restorative justice can never be achieved by allowing foreigners who purchase the land from colonisers to sell it to other foreigners. 
I am aware that in accordance with our present legal system, the land owned by foreigners, cannot easily be taken away from them.  It is now high time that our liberation struggle enters its final and critical juncture – the final restitution of our land.  I am confident and trust that our effective leaders will successfully end this final phase of our struggle.
An article states that The Right Honourable Prime Minister said, “I am quite confident that there is not authorisation granted by government to the owners of Erindi to sell that farm to foreigners”.  These revelations are timely and important.
The only thing that really confuses me is that the Mexican billionaire seeking to buy Erindi insists that the Minister of Land Reform has already approved the sale.  I really hope the Mexican billionaire is misquoted.
We surely have to welcome foreign investors into our country and be kind to them; the investment atmosphere must be good and attractive.  But, they should be offered land only on the basis and principles of usufruct.  We should also not give such land for 99 years as what happened with the Russian billionaire.  The contract should be given for short periods, renewable, if need be. 
I strongly express my opposition to the intended selling Erindi to any person or group of persons who are not citizens of Namibia.   Letter shortened – Ed.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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