Community activist appointment to LRAC causes heated debate

Martin Endjala

The appointment of one of the nominees of the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform to the Land Reform Advisory Committee was the cause of another division across party line in the Namibian Assembly.

Ministe Carl Schlettwein’s proposal of Jan Jarson indicated in his CV as a community activist and a former Swapo regional councillor was opposed by some opposition benches.

Another, issue being questioned in his CV is the lack of relevant academic qualifications as well as him putting down the names of two Swapo governors as reference, which led to a heated debate in this house yesterday.

The Commission draws membership from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, associations involved in agricultural affairs as well as four persons, of whom at least two shall be females, and who are not employed in the Public Service and who are suitably qualified having regard to the functions of the Commission.

The law requires that the four persons nominated directly by the Minister of Land Reform be appointed only with the approval of the National Assembly. All together the Land Reform Advisory Commission consists of 16 members.

The motion was tabled on Tuesday by the Minister Schlettwein.

The Landless People’s Movement MP Henny Seibeb said he is not happy with the manner in which the MAWLR minister often table his motions in the chamber, stating that his timing is always late and do not give members enough time to discuss appointments.

Seibeb stated that his is not in support of Jarson’s appotntment, saying that his curriculum vitae is selling a political agenda given his references to two governors who are affiliated to Swapo, compared to the other three candidates whose focus is on their professional work and qualifications.

Also, there is no reference to Jarson’s exposure or experience to small or large scale farming, Seibeb pointed out.

“He does not have any experience or idea, and the well trained and experienced indigenous knowledge”, Seibeb opined, adding that he is being pushed into a position that he is not qualified for at the expense of others, just simply because he is affiliated with Swapo.

This invited interjections from the other side of the house, pledging support for the appointment of Jarson based on the work he has done while serving as a counselor in the Aranos constituency.

The Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Uutoni Nujoma argued asking if a suitable candidate should not be given a chance to serve on any government board, just because he has made a reference to a person affiliated to SWAPO.
He insisted that experience is a very fundamental aspect of life, and that people should not be disregarded simply because they are not academically qualified.

Another MP from the opposition said that the timing of the motion for the appointment of the members of the commission is not in the interest of the house, as it is not adequate to do scrutiny that is needed on the candidates CVs, and wants this to stop and be addressed accordingly to make sure that they select the right candidates to the positions.

“I humbly request the House’s indulgency in disposing of this crucial function and plead that this August House approves and endorses the appointment these four persons respectively to the Land Reform Advisory Commission from the 1st of July 2022 until the 31st of March 2025 so that this appointment is timely effected with a view to rendering the Commission fully functional. The Curriculum Vitae of these four individuals are submitted to this August House for ease of reference”, Schlettwein pleaded.

The Land Reform Advisory Commission is among others empowered to investigate and consider, either on its own accord or upon request by the Minister, any other matter relating to the exercise of the powers of the Minister and the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, (Act No. 6 of 1995), as amended.

The minister proposed for appointment of Gerson Ripangura Katjimune, Jan Jarson, a community activist, Spendu Tjipe and Maria Immanuel.

By Observer