Affirmative Repositioning (AR) co-founder George Kambala says the Land Reform ministry would be doing the nation a disservice if it does not broadly consult land activists in the country during the run-up to the land conference later this year. In a recent interview, Kambala said AR was yet to receive any formal invitation from the land reform ministry to the envisaged land conference.
Kambala was however quick to point out that AR will attend the conference, whether or not they are invited. “If we do not get invited, we shall attend. You (Government) cannot speak about land and not include AR in your discussion. You will be doing a disservice to the nation. You will be doing a disservice to the people whose matters you need to address. We are equally those people. So whether invited or not, AR will attend,” charged Kambala. At this stage, AR maintains that it has special interest in the land conference at which the movement hopes to make a meaningful impact.
“Well we are waiting for the engagement with the ministry because they are now busy with regional stakeholders meetings. But we (AR) also want get involved in this. But it doesn’t warrant us to seek audience (from the land reform ministry) but we shall participate when the time comes,” said Kambala. When asked what impact the AR would want to make at the much-talked-about conference, Kambala noted that: “The AR Charter (31) is very clear when it comes to communal land. We are saying that our communal farmers need to be recognised so that they are able to access financing. Imagine if our communal farmers had access to financing, whereby they could go to banks to get finances for their water debt and animal feed when it comes to drought and stuff. That will mean a lot to them.”
Also speaking to The Patriot this week was Landless People’s Movement’s (LPM) Henny Seibeb who said the group was open to attending the Land Conference in September. To the contrary, however, LPM is set to host its own People’s Land Conference during the first week of September, the same month as the national land conference whose date is yet to be announced. At the said People’s Land Conference, LPM is set to put forth solutions aimed at address the long-standing land predicaments such as the restitution of ancestral land; land dispossession; affirmative action and the failed resettlement policy.
However, due to the well-documented love-hate relationship that exists between land reform Minister Utoni Nujoma and his former deputy Clinton Swartbooi who has since become the face of the LPM; it remains to be seen as to whether the group will be invited to the national conference on land. “We did not yet receive any invitation from the government’s side, maybe it is still to come. But looking at the extra-arrogant Minister (Nujoma), I don’t think him and his Permanent Secretary (Peter Amutenya), I don’t think they will issue any invitation,” said Seibeb.
Seibeb went on to say: “We will have ours (land conference), and if we are invited, we are going to table our findings there. And if we are not invited, still we are going to forward our findings to the President and traditional authorities. But for our conference, we are going to invite everyone including international organisations. We don’t have a problem, we are interested in finding solutions to our land problems in Namibia, once and for all.”
“We will invite everyone including Mr Utoni Nujoma, including Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba will be invited,” Seibeb said. When it was put to him what how much a loss it would be should the LPM be barred from the national conference on, Seibeb said: “It will be a loss to the Namibian government. It will be a loss to opportunity to show clearly how the minister has failed because at the end of the day, we are all from the same country, we need to sit around the table and find common ground on some of these issues. So if you don’t invite a critical partner like the LPM which stands for agrarian reform, land reform and all those things, then basically you will not have one arm, which is a strong civil society movement.” Last week, The Patriot spoke to a number of regional governors who indicated that they were busy with regional land consultative meetings with their respective communities in an attempt to make meaningful contribution towards the second national land conference later this year.