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LPM to boycott land conference if Nujoma does not resign

by Kelvin Chiringa

The Landless People’s Movement has said it will not attend a land conference chaired by the sitting minister of lands, Utoni Nujoma, calling for him to resign following his widely publicised utterances in an eNCA documentary that land could not be given to the poor. 

Although the minister has come to say that he was misquoted, through the government owned New Era publication, political commentators and the leading opposition party have labelled his statements “unfortunate”.

Speaking to The Villager yesterday after a press conference, LPM’s Paul Thomas   said that the minister has shown that he is insensitive towards the emotive land question.

“The land conference would be a non-starter with Utoni Nujoma being the chairperson of that conference. Even organising the whole land conference. So that’s why the Landless People’s Movement has emphasised the reason why the president must this time recall the minister as a minister of land reform,” he said.

The utterances show that the Swapo government lacks the political will to address the long-standing land question, LPM has maintained.

However, political analyst, Ndumbah Kamwanya has said that although Nujoma’s rant has no place in Namibian democracy, it should in no way be interpreted to mean that it is government’s official stance. 

“This is troubling in many aspects. For example, the platform that he uttered that statement is an international platform you see. The impression that has been given there indicates that he does not understand the complexity of the issue and also insensitivity towards people that are struggling in getting land. You can not say that you can not give the poor land, what are you trying to imply?”

“People are angry, even demanding that he should resign and all those things. For me the way I look at it, it’s a blunder that he made. It does not reflect the stance of the government. It just shows that the person that is in charge as a minister really do not understand the land issue. The best he can do is to apologise, he should not wait for the president to demand an apology, not for him top resign,” he said. 

Official opposition leader McHenry Venaani has also lambasted Nujoma for being irresponsible saying that white people who got land were poor and subsidized.

For him, to say people can not farm, is a fallacy: “We need to give these people tools, credit lines. It’s like saying a poor person can not become rich. So Mr. Nujoma’s statement is very reckless. He must be called to order.” 

He however said that Nujoma’s statements does not have a potential to derail the land conference and that his party will push for important reforms instead.

“What should not happen is these resettlement farms that are given to rich people. Those that can buy farms let them buy farms,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nudo party has given the national leadership an ultimatum of   three weeks to remove Nujoma as the Minister of Lands and also to change the representation in the high level committee of the land conference.

“If this is not materialised, we will unite with all land activists, movements and organisations, civil society and organise a mass demonstration to statehouse and continue to act as A pressure group until our demand is heard,” said the party’s outgoing president, Asser Mbai. 

 He said that the silence of Swapo with such utterances means that they agree and   have adopted “as part of their Manifesto that no one from poor backgrounds will benefit under the Swapo Administration”.

“We know that all Swapo elites owns farms, they are being resettled under the Swapo policy of giving land to the richer at the expense of poor people. They also have multiple fishing rights, and no one has done any audit were wealth is only circulating among the elites, and well connected Swapo members," Mbai said.