The chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources Tjekero Tweya, says the committee is not a talk shop, but means business when holding public hearings.
He issued this warning at today’s public hearing on the Affirmative Reposition petition on land ownership by foreigners in Namibia.
Today’s public hearing had engagements with representatives from the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU).
Tweya called on parties before the committee to repair elaborately for the hearings and to make the necessary recommendations to parliament.
The chairperson said the procrastination of the process with excuses such as the invitations to appear before the committee were on short notice will negatively affect the consultation work of his committee.
“We have not yet began addressing the petition, as we are thoroughly ensuring that all relevant stakeholders have been heard and provided their inputs on the subject matter,’’ Tweya said”.
Those invited to give information to the standing committee should not feel pressured, but rather understand the importance of the matter. “Since independence 32 years ago we have been singing the same song, and we have grown to be bored of the same song, we cannot continue listening to it anymore Leaders have been elected to listen and improve the livelihoods of the people, particularly on land outcries”, he said.
The chairperson emphasised the seriousness of the matter at hand, saying they will listen to everyone with relevant information on the issue, further stating that no matter how sensitive it might be, they are here to serve the Namibian people.
The chief executive officer of NNFU, Kuniberth Shamathe was instructed by the committee to return next week Tuesday with elaborate statistics on land ownership by foreigners in Namibia.
About 70 percent of communal land in the country is occupied by NNFU members. Shamathe suggested that some of this land be converted into commercial land.
Shamathe also pointed out that commercial land has been shrinking in size and that he foresees it getting smaller.
The president of Namibia Agricultural Union Piet Gouws cautioned the committee not to focus too much on the recommendation of the petition not to give land to expatriates.
Gouws raised concerns surrounding one of the petitions regulations that says, Namibians should be given majority of ownership in farms, raising the question as to how many Namibians can actually afford land.
Tweya corroborated Gouws’ concerns, highlighting the Namibian Constitution guarantees the right of everyone to acquire, own and dispose of all forms of properties in Namibia, provided that the government prohibits or regulates.
But, the chairperson pointed out that committee being the legislative body, will consider all alternatives to yield desirable outcomes for the land bill.
He however, adviced stakeholders to tap into the minds of the affected Namibians to understand their grievances and provide inputs that are in the best interest of the nation.
The NAU president, has requested for two weeks to come back with a more outlined report more focused on the AR petition.