Ancestral land rights undisputable, but beware of Capitalistic hegemony

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Ancestral Land Rights Claims and Restitution, now in the public domain, is reaffirming claims to and of ancestral land rights by a section of the indigenous people of Namibia as an undeniable historical fact.

A historical fact which the propertied class in Namibia, and their lackeys, have been portraying, twist and spinning as fiction. The indigenous people were dispossessed of their land in the name of Colonialism and Capitalism. Consequently they were and most are still displaced internally, and externally in the Diaspora of Botswana and South Africa, among many other foreign places. Where they are still condemned to capitalist enslavement .

What remains now is how their land rights can and should be restored. The report is clear that some of the indigenous communities suffered more land dispossession and loss than others. Notably the Ovaherero; Ovambanderu; Nama; Damara and San. Most instructive about the Commission’s report is the evidence that land among the indigenous communities was not the property of a single individual. But that it was communally owned and used. If you wish communism predated Colonialism and Capitalism in Namibia, as far as land and land usage was concerned. A system that was interrupted by Colonialism and Capitalism. Hence the existence in Namibia of Capitalism to this day. To the benefit of the Bourgeoisie and its comprador allies at the expense of the real and legitimate owners of land, the indigenous communities.

A debate has now ensued within society, especially among a section of the affected communities whose land had been dispossessed. As to what the way forward is in ensuring social and economic justice. To those who during Colonialism lost their ancestral land, and continue to be alienated from their land in an independent Capitalist Namibia.

Lest there may be any misinterpretation and misconstruing what colonial disposition means in this regard, the right and correct context is apt. First and foremost German Colonialism, and the attendant and/or parallel genocide committed against the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu, Nama, Damara and San. These are the communities who in the context of Colonial Capitalism can essentially, properly, rightly and legitimately can and may have claim to ancestral land rights, and restitution.

In the ensuing debate there have been views of a need for a constitutional provision enshrining ancestral land rights. Granted. But lack of a constitutional provision in this regard is not what has been preventing land reform. Nor can it be the panacea to an egalitarian land use system. In fact land reform has already been taking place in Namibian since independence. Only that it has not been rooted in egalitarian principles or socialist ethos. True to its design within a Capitalist framework, as opposed to a socialist approach, land reform has thus only been designed and intended to benefit a very few socially and culturally connected and anointed Capitalist inclined and inspired individuals.

Likewise restitution as legitimate and just as it can and may be, cannot be for its own sake without an egalitarian or socialist inspired purpose. Thus, utmost care must and should be taken to avoid the same Capitalist trappings that the land reform process has hitherto ran into, thus rendering it abortive in as far accessing land to the impoverished massed, let alone inspiring controlled production among the few privileged who have been able to gain land.

Because land redistribution and reform has been ideologically misinformed and ill-inspired, and as a corollary ideologically ill-hatched and designed.

Empirical evidence abounds in Namibia regarding the inefficacy and inefficiency of the resettlement programme. Either because those resettled are not the right candidates, or the right candidates who have been thrown at the deeper end. Thus as much as one appreciate and respect the rights of the land dispossessed, and restorative justice in this regard, it cannot and should not be for its own sake. In the long run it must benefit the impoverished affected communities.

Already in Namibia there are communities who in the name of ancestral land rights wish and desire to abrogate these rights to themselves but excluding some other members of these very same communities. This is evident in the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu communities where traditional authorities are claiming exclusivity to community heritages and/or shrines at the expense of fellows. Such abrogation, despite the fact that it is ideologically flawed and hegemonic in intent, surely cannot be in the interest of the entire community, and Namibia at larGE. But a travesty of the ancestral land rights claim. A right which has eventually, against a tidal wave of an army of detractors, been established, confirmed and endorsed unequivocally by the Land Commission. That is why one cannot but be cautious that the eventual practical restoration of such ancestral land rights, are in an egalitarian and socialist inspired spirit, be to be benefit of the affected communities. As opposed to satisfying the egoistic whims of hegemon
ic traditional leaders in respective traditional authorities. Claiming such rights on behalf of their communities to eventually thwart and twist the egalitarian needs, wants and interests of the communities.

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