Land movement to reveal its resolutions soon

Windhoek-The Landless People's Movement (LPM) chairperson Henny Seibeb yesterday said the resolutions adopted at the LPM land conference last week would soon be shared with the public at a public lecture to be held in due course.

Seibeb said LPM's chief campaigner, Bernadus Swartbooi, is poised to host a public lecture in the next few weeks to speak extensively on the outcomes, recommendations, solutions, aspirations, hopes and prospects of LPM's grand agenda on land struggles in Namibia.

LPM held a land conference last week Thursday and Friday with the intention to address issues around ancestral land, land restitution and restorative justice, domestic land resettlement policies and agrarian reform efforts.

According to Seibeb, there were mixed reactions at the LPM conference, which focused on key thematic issues relating to the history of colonial and contemporary land dispossession and ancestral land claims.

He said the workshop attracted close to 100 delegates � although only 30 people were needed for a focus group � from various regions, amongst them members of different political parties, civil society leaders, academics, historians, social anthropologists and students.

Of course, the peasants and the indigenous peoples, as well as the landless working class, made up the bulk of delegates. What made the workshop achieve its stated objective was the way delegates articulated their views and engaged with the resource persons at Shalom Centre, away from the prying eyes of the media. In fact, media blackout was chosen as a deliberate strategy to enable delegates to concentrate fully on the task ahead of them, he stated.

He said that right from the onset Swartbooi provided a diagnostic overview of the land struggles in Namibia.

He said Swartbooi took them back into memory lane by sketching pre-colonial Africa and human movements and settlements, adding that he traced pre-colonial settlement patterns and movements.

But the critical issue was the colonial land policies before 1915, after 1919, the 1960s and post-1990. Whilst prime land was lost during colonialism, what we, the delegates, could not stomach is the replication of the same colonial strategies and tactics by the current government to further impoverish [people], and deprive those communities who have lost land through colonial land dispossession the right to reclaim their land, or demand at least a fair and just compensation Seibeb stressed.

He revealed that a landless commercial farmer, Rynault van Wyk, shared his thoughts on the fair distribution of land, the case of commercial farming and small and medium farming and its challenges.

Other delegates included John Nakuta on land matters on the side of justice, August Maletzky on constitutional law, restorative justice and ancestral land claims, Dr Vetja Haakuria, on land � compromise for sustainable development � at whose expense?; and Pan-Africanist Uazuva Kaumbi on absentee landlords and current resettlement policies.

Also in their midst, Seibeb said, was a visitor from South Africa, Gordon Cassim, who gave a complete overview of the Khoena and San people's history and struggles in southern Africa.

Cassim also shared the progressive steps that the South African government has taken in land restitution claims.

Namibia Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (NANGOF) convener Uhuru Dempers was also in attendance, among other delegates such as Swanu president Tangeni Iyambo who provided Swanu's position paper on the land conference and articulated the party's stance.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia