As government prepares for the high proﬁ le Land Conference scheduled for year’s end, front-persons of the Landless People’s Movement have indicated that government has elbowed them out of the preparatory committee.
“We have not been included in the preparatory committee although from the Landless People’s side we are very much ready. “We have prepared ourselves, we have prepared our documentation, we have our recommendations for deliberation and we are waiting for government to invite us in the preparatory stage and consult us as part of the broader community,” said LPM’s Rosa Namises.
The movement has been arm-twisting government over the emotive land issue and of note has been their advocacy for the return of ancestral land which has been rubbished by the lands ministry as a non-starter. The Lands Ministry has said the LPM has no merits that can justify its taking part in the preparatory committee.
“On what basis do they want to be included, seriously? They are just stakeholders like any other stakeholders, what is so special about them. We are going to consult stakeholders, I do not think a stakeholder can really cry for space to be in the preparation of a conference, I have never seen such a thing,” said Public Relations Ofﬁcer in the Lands Ministry Chrispine Matongela.
He also said, “Maybe what they could be lobbying for since they are a new organisation is to be just part of the participants, not to be part of the committee, seriously. Are they also going to participate in the budgeting, they also want to contribute (ﬁnancially) towards the conference or what? A conference of this nature has a lot of logistical arrangement; I really do not understand what they really want.”
Matongela said the LPM never approached the ministry with a proposal to join the committee and would only receive an invitation letter to the Land Conference only when the minister begins to send the invitations to all stakeholders. LPM said they harbor no suspicions over possibilities of being skipped out saying that the president had advised that they get ready for the conference.
“We cannot have suspicions after hearing our president say that we must prepare ourselves for the conference to come, so at the moment we do not suspect anything. We just have to wait, we will talk when we see that time is running and have not yet been invited,” she said.
Concerning a possible early amalgamation with Job Amupanda’s Afﬁ rmative Repositioning (AR), the movement has stamped that they were still weighing the options while studying the latter’s agenda in the entire land resettlement struggle.
“I am also studying and trying to understand where the AR is coming from, once we have clarity and information then we will come back (with an answer) but now I see them working on urban land but not very much has seen documentation,” said Namises.
Afﬁrmative Repositioning’s Dimbulukeni Nauyoma said the prospects of a possible alliance remains distant while at the same time stamping that A.R’s fundamental thrust is to empower people to demand what is rightfully theirs. How AR gets to be not immediately keen to join hands with those they empower to demand these rights and whether LPM was inspired by A.R. remains a mystery. “With regards to us joining forces with them or whatever the case may be, I am unable to tell you where that future goes because I cannot see in the future.
“We have always said that part of why A.R. was established is to ensure that people are awakened and demand what is rightfully theirs. If they are demanding for ancestral land in their corner then let that be the case,” he told The Villager. The A.R was also born out of the plight for land yet it seems where the two movements diverge is on what kind of land, urban or rural (ancestral). On the other hand AR styles itself more as a revolutionary pro-Marxist movement with what Nauyoma called “Namibian characteristics”, a deﬁnition which has not been clearly spelt out by LPM. Another differing factor is how AR unlike the LPM is pro-Swapo with a considerable following from a predominantly discontented urban youth.
On the other hand, LPM has lambasted the Lutheran Church’s recent apology for being part of the genocide and colonial land grab dispensation. The movement has said the apology does not hold any water if it stands in isolation without making a follow up to redress the wrongs of the past especially land theft by the Germans and other settlers.
“The land liberation and other issues are integral parts of any apology if it should come. So the people are saying an apology in isolation is not going to do anything. The issue of ancestral land and the pain that our people have suffered has to be addressed together,” said LPM’s Seth !Nowaseb.
Concerning this matter, Namises said, “In the past the Church was the voice of the voiceless but in today the Church is in unison and cahoots with the state and silences itself as if it does not exist when the call for landlessness is being made. We also take note of the vast land they have acquired over the past 500 years.”