After observing and reading the different sentiments expressed about the Land Deputy Minister Bernadus Swartbooi, I cannot help but add mu voice to the debate.
Like many of the voices I wonder what the debate is all about.
I failed to understand why the Deputy Minister need to apologize, when he spoke about the resettlement programme which we all know is a total disaster. He told the truth.
Resettlement in particular refers to the word “re” which means that the process is used as a corrective measure. Resettlement must and should not be confused with the Article 21(I) (h) which guarantees everyone the freedom to: reside and settle in any part of Namibia. The distinction here is between settling and being resettled. Same applied to words such as “re-examination”. Do you examine where there was no examination in the first place? Resettlement is completely a different concept from “residing” which the Constitution Article is referring to. Simply put, you can reside anywhere in Namibia where you want, but that does not mean that you have the right to take over other people’s land that they lost through a well documented colonial dispossession.
Instead of referring to this Constitutional Article, there must be a distinction between the two concepts.
The Constituent Assembly at the drafting of the constitution, the two major parties namely SWAPO and the DTA had the majority in that house. Both parties are historically disinterested in the Ancestral land question because from their inception neither party emerged from the ashes of Genocide and Dispossession. Neither party were formed with the ‘right of return’ in their ideological formations.
The DTA was created as a counterweight to the revolution demands of the victims of genocide of ancestral land and property which the legacy of Imperial Germany and subsequent Apartheid Afrikaner Settlers still maintain through the policies of the DTA and SWAPO, and this is the historical context of Constitution Article No. Ironically those continually referring to this Act are those who never lost land through the systematic policy of land dispossession. This is why the communities who lost land such as the Damaras, Nama, Ovaherero, San Community, and Basters have a different interpretation of the Act.
We know that those condemning what the Deputy Minister Swartbooi said, are those who benefitted and continue to benefit from the corrupt land distribution from the SWAPO government since independence.
Let us make it categorically clear that what the government is doing is land distribution, which is completely different from resettlement.
The land issue with regard to the above afore-mentioned affected communities, did not just affect the livelihood of the people, but also linked to the loss of their cultural and spiritual well-being.
The dispossession of land during colonial times did not render Damara, Nama, Ovaherero, the San community and the Basters but it also uprooted them from their heritage. The SWAPO government so-called resettlement programme, as it was rightly articulated by the Land Deputy Minister, further entrenched and deepened their marginalization from their ancestral land.
Instead of resettling those who lost land, the Government is abusing its system of resettlement to bring people from other regions to the land that was taken away from its rightful owners.
Land is a human right issue and this is why the South African Government at their Independence passed the Restitution Land Right Act No 22 of 1994. We have a lot to learn from such an Act.
The platform at which the Deputy Minister used to raise the land question is according to the President not the “right platform”. The land issue as well as the Ovaherero and Nama genocide of 1904-1908 have been raised several platforms being the current topical issues in Namibia. Can the President seriously suggest that the platform was wrong? OR is it another way of silencing descending voices? The President must let the public know which is the right platform to raise such important issues.
The President must also stop using a language that has the potential to incite violence such that if anyone is telling the truth in this country has “the potential of disturbing the peace and stability”. The only people who are keeping the so-called “peace and stability” are those who lost their land and are still losing their dignity by government marginalization.
From the support that the Deputy Minister received through social media and the Chiefs from the affected communities, the president must apologize to Deputy Minister Swartbooi unreservedly not the other way around.
Mike Kavekotora is a member of the National Assembly and the secretary general of the Rally for Democracy and Progress.