Uncertainty over planned land conference
The Ministry of Land Reform is pushing ahead with the planned second land conference despite resistance from non-Governmental Organisations who are questioning the planning and timing of the event.
Land Reform Minister, Utoni Nujoma launched preparations to host the second national land conference in the country late last month.
While a definite date for the Second National Land Conference is not set yet, the indaba could take place as early as November this year or early next year.
Despite the public announcement by Nujoma, which slated the 2nd National Land Conference for November, government is not adequately prepared for this high level caucus meant to revisit the vital current land ownership imbalances, The Villager has been informed.
The country’s first ever Land Conference was held 25 years ago and it failed to address the plight of the landless majority and, despite looking forward to the upcoming conference which is of utmost national interest, government has not as yet set a date.
Government’s current state of preparedness for the highly anticipated conference on land which is a few weeks away has raised so many eyebrows with tongues wagging on whether the conference will likely be held at all.
“Whereas less than two month is remaining before November 2016, we are concerned that no date or venue has been announced by the Ministry of Land Reform,” said the convener of the Namibian Non-governmental Organisations Forum (NANGOF) Working Group, Uhuru Dempers.
The Villager can also reliably inform that the ministry has not as yet made public the conference agenda, dates or details for regional consultations, while, according to the NANGOF Working Group, since the creation of a task force formed out of the first People’s Land Conference held in Mariental in 1994, the ministry had not invited stakeholders to deliberate on the prerequisites of the upcoming conference.
“Although no agenda has been announced, we are informed that the main agenda item will be the review of the 24 resolutions taken at the 1st National Land Reform Conference. Our concern is whether independent researchers, land experts and academics have been commissioned to undertake this review or if the Ministry will evaluate it itself,” said Dempers.
When contacted for a comment by The Villager, Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Land Reform, Chrispin Matongela could not provide a date for the conference, while he refuted claims that the ministry had closed its doors to other stakeholders in organising the event.
“No, that’s not true. We have stakeholders that we work with. In fact even at the launch, the Namibia Agriculture Union was there. The Namibia National Farmers Union was there. So that is not true. We do not have the date as yet but we are busy planning, we will announce it,” he said.
The flawed 1st National Land Conference held in the winter of 1991 came up with 24 resolutions which failed to gather any momentum prompting the People’s Land Conference of 1994, which was massively attended by 500 delegates and the NANGOF Working Group on Land Reform has from since then taken to regional consultations that reviews progress on land resettlement.
The Director of Land Reform and Resettlement in the Ministry of Land Reform, Peter Nangolo last month made shocking revelations that to date some 247 agricultural farms measuring 1.2 million hectares are owned by foreigners most of which are absentee farmers.
“November is next door and it is very close for us to organise something that will have an impact, because this is a very sensitive issue. I think we should push for a postponement so that this can be organised well,” said the Deputy Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia Rev Paul Kisting.