(Xinhua) -- Former land reform deputy
minister Bernadus Swartbooi is holding meetings across Namibia
urging people to demand fairness in the resettlement process and
the return of their ancestral land.
Swartbooi was fired
by President Hage Geingob on Dec. 14 last year over comments he
had said about land reform minister Utoni Nujoma.
Geingob fired Swartbooi after he had refused to apologize to
Nujoma for accusing him of unfair land reform practices.
Some of the comments Swartbooi made were that Nujoma was
ignoring people from the Nama and Herero tribes whose ancestral
land in the south and east of the country was taken away by
mostly the Germans between 1904 and 1908.
Swartbooi, a former governor for the //Karas region in the
south of the country and a Nama himself, also accused Nujoma of
resettling people from other regions.
Some of the demands being made by Swartbooi and a number of
land activists is that the Land Bill should not be re-tabled
before consultations have been made.
They are also demanding that Nujoma should convene the second
land conference to address the issue of returning ancestral land
to those who belong to the dispossessed families.
Nujoma had indicated that he would re-table the Land Bill in
the National Assembly this year regardless of whether the second
land conference has been held or not.
The Land Bill was first tabled in the National Assembly in
November 2016 but had to be withdrawn after some opposition
parliamentarians had raised several issues among them lack of
Nujoma has also postponed indefinitely the second land
conference that was supposed to have been held last year, saying
there was no money.
The cancellation of the land conference has been at the
centre of controversy especially after Nujoma announced that he
would be re-tabling the Land Bill.
Namibia’s president Hage Geingob has, however, ordered Nujoma
not to re-table the Land Bill until consultations have been
Geingob said this when he spoke during the official opening
of the 2017 judicial year in Windhoek Wednesday.
The order comes after Swartbooi had held three meetings, with
the first held at Keetmanshoop on Saturday and another at
Maltahöhe (300 kilometers from Windhoek) on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Swartbooi met some landless people in Aminius
Constituency, Omaheke, a region where mostly the OvaHerero
These meetings are being attended by some traditional chiefs
who are considered as among the most powerful when it comes to
the land issue.
At Keetmanshoop meeting on Saturday, the people elected
members to the Landless People’s Movement that will organize a
Landless People’s Conference set for Sept. 2017.
The movement has also said there will be a march on the
National Assembly when it opens Feb. 14 to protest against
unfair land resettlement program.
"Freedom without land is not freedom," Swartbooi told the
Keetmanshoop meeting Saturday, adding that nobody was born land
less but was deprived of land.
He appealed to Geingob saying:
"We say Mr Geingob, give us back our land.
"For Mr Geingob we are hungry and we are thirsty. As
land-dispossessed citizens, we demand our ancestral land."
Describing the Land Bill as a notorious and ridiculous
working document, Swartbooi said any law on land must only be
tabled after the inclusion of and buy-in from those who were
He told the people who attended the Maltahöhe meeting that
there is need to realign the land reform in the country.
"We will not make inputs to the narrow dictates of the
government reform agenda.
"It is not in our interest and it is not in the national
interest," he said.
At Aminius, Swartbooi said the landless should not be
silenced just because of fear of being fired or risk being
labelled as tribalists.
"We will all be silenced by the grave, that’s the only way
for us," he said.
The Swapo Party to which Swartbooi is still a member and
parliamentarian has said they are studying the comments the
former deputy minister made with a view of taking appropriate
The party’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba told the media
Tuesday that as a party they were "organizing their thoughts
before" regarding Swartbooi.
Swartbooi has, however, dared the party to drag him before a
disciplinary hearing, saying that he did not do anything that
affects the party negatively.
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