Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Winter is Coming: The Dawning of the Land Question

“Winter is coming, and when the Long Night falls, only the Night’s Watch will stand between the realm and the darkness that sweeps from the north. The gods help us all if we are not ready.” Tyrion’s words of the coming eminent danger. It doesn’t matter what measures anyone took or didn’t, winter was coming and it was coming fast.
The land question for Namibia is finally here, not only in its political sense but in its socio-economic sense. It’s a question presented in its most logical, structured or sanitised form but in an unashamedly messy environment and in the context of a messy history. No matter what anyone does to prolong it, derail it, or ignore it, like the winter of Westeros the question is here and it MUST be answered. In as much as many of us think it to be a small matter, we should not underestimate that it carries a force that could potentially send us down a dark path.
While the question of land has been on the table since independence, it is a burning issue today. There’s a growing number of politicised youth and social movements, all taking aim at the land question – both informed and uninformed. On the other hand, some, out of ignorance, have oversimplified the issue. For example, the socialist ideology of equal distribution fraud with the misconception that land miraculously gives power to own the means of production. Or that owning land is the primary level of addressing poverty issues in the country. Or that the primary source of economic inequality is based on unequal access to land. While these views play on people’s emotions, they fail to take various factors into account and these movements become simply platforms for chaos and disorder.
While the call for land distribution has mostly come from the camp of Black Namibians, the responses of majority of White Namibians have not been helpful. For example, the search to deny the historical contexts of atrocities which led to the land appropriation of White minorities. While I do understand that generations of efforts have gone into establishing these farms to the standards they are, I still do think that there is need to discuss appropriate measure of giving back some of the land to Black Namibians. The giving of land to Namibians, however, comes with many ethical questions – especially the administrative corruption that’s festering within our state machinery of resource distribution.
With all the possible challenges, confusion and messy looks of the situation, what is important is that we can no longer postpone the land question. Not only as a question but the actions that need to be taken to rectify the wrong committed in history. While the giving of land to Black Namibians does not warrant instant wealth or economic freedom, I believe, it would be a good start for leveling the economic playground. We all know by now that in our kind of economy, land no longer carries mere sentimental value but great economic value and the power to bargain with financial institutions to obtain development capital and other resources.
The idea of land expropriation with compensation is in itself fraud with great economic injustice. However, compensation should be made for the developments established on any of the lands, if there be any, but not for the land itself. This can be achieved through legal mediations to ensure fair compensation. This is but a suggestion, many other could be provided. What I’m simply saying is that the land question cannot be settled without radical measures.
When I am talking about the land question that has dawned upon us, I’m speaking on behalf of the disadvantaged majority. Politicians, in general, have failed and have simply use this platform to obtain the land, now they are literally playing the diplomacy card because it’s no longer an issue for many of them. While we need legal intervention, we need merely the backing of the state through the judiciary. Our current politicians have effectively demonstrated their incompetence to address such issues with effectiveness, honesty and fairness. This is a question that can only be settled by appealing to our common humanity and decency.
I don’t hold to a socialist-marxist ideology of empowering the lower class. For I believe that not all farmers are necessarily wealthy, but the sharing of land would distribute negotiating power and open up room for possible wealth creation through the utilisation of land. On the other hand, I want to be clear that the land question isn’t an indiscriminate pursuit of wanting to give land to every single Black Namibian. Not every individual can own land but if we empower many of the previously disadvantaged to access land with the necessary training, it can affect the economic distribution dynamics.
I’ve to commend that in as much as the process of the land question has been handled with slowness, we appreciate the peaceful and patient nature of the Namibian people. However, that cannot be taken for granted, and it will not benefit anyone to acquire land through violent means. The issue is not only economic, we are dealing with an issue of justice, dignity and self-actualisation, which are delayed by absence of the land that could catalyse the process. However, we need to have clear criteria of what we need the land for that is to be distributed, else that this would become another white elephant pursuit and waste a precious resource. (To be continued)
This article is written in my person capacity and does not represent the views of IUM or its associates.

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