Wednesday 14 April 2021
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PDM blames GRN for feet dragging in Russian billionaire court battle

The official opposition, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has accused government for playing delay tactics in a pending legal battle in which several political outfits are disputing the purchase of four farms by a Russian oligarch.
News of the farm purchases by the billionaire, Rashid Sardarov struck a nerve with the Affirmative Repositioning (AR), the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) the PDM, as well as National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) and South West Africa National Union (SWANU).
The opposition reacted to news of the controversial farms deal by promising to drag GRN to court.
Yet more than half a year later, silence has masked the entire fray, raising speculation as to whether the aggrieved parties have developed cold feet.
The AR movement voiced that it would knock on the door of the corruption watchdog as well as the Ombudsman to have the matter investigated.
However, speaking to The Patriot recently, the Anti-Corruption Commission director general, Paulus Noa indicated that he was not aware of any report or complaint filed by the activist outfit.
LPM’s Bernadus Swartbooi pushed President Hage Geingob to fire lands minister, Utoni Nujoma while PDM’s Nico Smit beamed with optimism that government was set for a major court defeat in connection with the farm purchases which he said was illegal.
When approached by this publication on how far they had gone in representing the concerns of their electorate by fighting the N$43 million farm transactions in court, LPM’s Henny Seibeb acceded that nothing much had been done.
He was quick to add that the matter remained high on their radar.
“We are still seized with the matter. Other opposition parties have not yet contacted us but we are seized with that matter. We’ve been preoccupied with registration and campaigns and so on but that is one of the issues that we are going to take on once we get elected in parliament in 2020,” he said.
The official leader of the opposition, McHenry Venaani who recently got another new lease at the helm of the party via congress, blamed the government for playing delay tactics and avoiding an early confrontation in courts.
“It’s on the roll of the court; we have submitted already the court papers. Government had to reply. They have to provide certain documents to us but they are taking too long,” he said.
A 2015 amendment to the Local Authorities Bill; submitted to parliament by former urban and rural development minister now Swapo secretary general, Sophia Shaaningwa banned foreigners from buying land except through companies.
Part of the land conference resolutions was that foreigners would no longer be entitled to buying land unless for economic developmental purposes.
Last year, a proposal against the ownership of land by foreign nationals and absentee landlords was adopted by a Khomas regional consultative meeting.
PDM’s Nico Smit also said according to the existing law, no foreign national may lease land for a period of more than ten years.
Venaani was recently quoted, lashing out at the President for “selling Namibia to the highest bidder”.
“You (Geingob) are setting a precedent of unacceptable proportions in our country. These people are not ready to match the talk. I want to plead with the people of Namibia to open their eyes and see that the government is running this country down,” Venaani voiced.
A case of toothless bulldogs?
The central theme to the political rhetoric last year was that lands minister Utoni Nujoma had to be fired by the appointing authority, yet six months down the line, the minister remains in office.
This has strengthened opinion that opposition parties’ voices carry little weight when it comes to challenging fundamental decisions and actions of the ruling Swapo party, which enjoys a two thirds majority in government.
Calls for Nujoma to hang his up boots were unanimously made by PDM, SWANU, NUDO, and LPM who appear to have been cowed into silence with Nujoma still in his position of authority.
President Hage Geingob seems to have paid little regard to the call and did not make an issue out of it to the extent of issuing an official statement.
Activist and political columnist, Benedict Louw decried the disunited nature of the opposition.
“With regards to having a clear standing on the issue of land, they are so much fragmented that they would not be able to jointly have a voice when it comes to challenging Geingob on this. Geingob operates from the realm of unilateralism,” said Louw.
He added that there was no hope in the opposition’s ability to effect any radical change.
“You need someone within the (Swapo) movement.
If you ask me, Swapo is the vehicle which we can use to effect change, without a doubt I would say yes.  It is not the organisation that is the problem, it is the individuals within the party,” said the bona fide Swapo member.

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