LANDLESS People’s Movement (LPM) leaders today proposed that President Hage Geingob stops the current resettlement programme and prioritise genocide victims in land redistribution.
Bernadus Swartboi and Henny Seibeb made the proposal to Geingob, during a courtesy visit to state house this morning.
Swartbooi suggested that new modalities be studied and implemented without any delay.
Saying “veterans never lost a single iota of land and as such the prioritisation of the veterans must be stopped with immediate effect” he urged government to prioritise genocide victims’’ in resettlement.
According to him, landlessness and elite land grabbing continue at an unprecedented scale, as the current land reform efforts do not yield tangible results as they are based on favouritism and skewed planning.
“Well-off beneficiaries, urban-based business individuals, former state bureaucrats and local politicians with access to material resources, knowledge and information, often qualify as beneficiaries. State bureaucrats and the politically powerful often capture resources in land reform through the following practices: the soliciting and payment of bribes, fronting, the imposition of politically-connected beneficiaries and bailing out politically- connected people,” Swartboi stressed.
“Failure to create a deliberate class of small-scale farmers, and expansion of smallholding farmers with a subsequent and further failure to effectively address ancestral land claims, genocide reparations and continued land dispossession, define the landscape of
Namibia’s land question,” Swartboi said in his proposal.
He added that the state of land governance, legal and institutional framework, especially in the communal land, is at crisis levels with regards to increasing cases of land grabbing, mistreatment of the farm labourers, exclusion of women and vulnerable groups from resettlement. These bottlenecks are preventing so many hard working communal farmers the chance to “accumulate from below.”, he said.
In addition, the LPM says, COVID-19 has worsened the Namibian GDP, which, since 2015 has been slippery, with growth reaching up to 6.1 percent that year and deteriorating to -0.1 in 2018.
The GDP they project is expected to further record decline for the next five years.
LPM says economic penalties due to Covid-19 local and global economic and social lockdowns have done the damage as the Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi illuminated figures of between N$1.7 billion and N$2billion losses per week.
“The Namibian Government must take bold decisions to rescue the most vulnerable from starvation, disease, loss of income and potential deaths. Just on 28 January 2022, The Black Business Leadership Network (BBLNN) of Namibia urged the Ministry of
Finance to direct the State-Owned Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) to halt all legal processes aimed at liquidating and repossessing the properties and assets of Black owned businesses,” Swartboi says.
According to LPM, black businesses are bearing the brunt of economic melt-down, as institutions such as the Development Bank of Namibia are relinquishing all developmental responsibilities, as per their mandate, and enforcing stringent loan repayment models.
“DBN and Agribank have to obtain what is due to them by the borrowers but what is the national mandate of these bodies? This matter requires the Presidency to urgently intervene to ensure a balanced approach so that entrepreneurs are not decapitated and that the economy does not suffer beyond recovery capabilities. The economy should not collapse. Collapse of Namibia’s economy is real, and if it occurs, we stand the risk of confronting greater and unprecedented socio-economic and political upheaval and instability since the advent of colonialism in Namibia.’’
Therefore a sustainable strategy is needed to deal with COVID-19 without severely affecting our fiscal sustainability, while simultaneously re-calibrating economic sectors that will deliver on sustainable jobs, food security and enhancing peace and social cohesion,” Swartboi stressed.
The party further claimed that “reckless spending” on TIPEEG and Mass Housing, without showing much for such spending, coupled with massive corruption have left the country in a dire fiscal situation.
“Our economy declined by 0.7 percent over the last three years, on average. In 2019 alone, the economy contracted by 1.1 percent. Tourism is completely devastated in rural areas. Our debt-to-GDP levels are now the highest ever, with a possibility to reach levels that could become unsustainable, driving us into a fully-fledged fiscal crisis. Our children and grandchildren will be left heavily indebted. The memories of millennials are now filled with crises after crises, with no prospects of a brighter future in their minds, in the medium term. We simply cannot continue on this trajectory and should develop policies for COVID-19 without compromising our future.”
To rescue the country out of this morass, a ‘’responsible collective leadership on all fronts is required to develop economic and social reconstruction policies and prioritize key strategic sectoral resuscitation framework, geared toward reaching the largest possible population in order to lift our people out of poverty’’, Swartboi told Geingob.
In their proposal, the party also suggested that the government purchase irrigation land and start plantations for food production at the Necktartal Dam south of Keetmanshoop, as it is readily available for irrigation utilization.
The party suggested that a total of N$5 billion dollars be injected into the agricultural sector per year.
“Namibia needs to advance in modernizing and diversifying the agricultural sector that is primarily based on livestock and few agro-economic activities. The sector needs to be boosted with special focus on food production creating food security,” LPM said.
They also proposed that the urban ministry makes land available to the //Kharas Regional Council for the creation of investment opportunities and co-ownership of projects.
“As matters stand now only Namib Mills have shown interest in this dam (Neckartal), and the waters are being wasted. We hope that by giving the Regional Council some land rights to allocate that this body would be able to attract investment opportunities.
Namibia shall face a population growth in coming years to come, with lots of infrastructure development and investment, especially in the //Kharas region.
‘’We are therefore pleased as a governing party in //Kharas Region for notable investment that the central government has undertaken as far as the building of the Necktartal Dam is concerned,” LPM says.
Swartboi also proposed that the mines ministry informs Shell, Total, and NAMCOR to begin conversations with the //Kharas Regional Council on possible joint-ownership, or allocation of shares in the planned energy projects in the south for the overall development of the inhabitants of this region.
This, he says, is because of “strong indications” that Namibia will soon become an oil production and an energy exporting country.
“Our research has indicated that Shell and Total are making good progress in this regard. In this instance, it is our considered stance as a governing party in //Kharas region that we demand that the Regional Council and Traditional Authorities and Community
Trust Funds should co-own any oil and gas discovery so they benefit in what we term as substantive empowerment,” LPM says.