Let us tread carefully

17 July 2019 | Opinion

When expectations are not met, citizens wronged in this regard should have channels, means and ways to air their grievances and have them addressed effectively.

In the case of the emotive issue of ancestral land claims and restitution, which could lead to bitter feuding, we need to tread carefully. It was thus important for President Hage Geingob to share his concerns, which he did on Monday during a meeting with representatives of the ancestral land commission he appointed following a resolution taken by the country’s second land conference. Geingob did not mince his words when he preached caution, warning against the spectre of using the theft of ancestral land, which remains a bitter fruit of colonialism, for ulterior motives.

Geingob cautioned that this could in fact stir up civil war. “This issue of land, used by some people for their own purposes can put this country at war. Civil war. That is how civil war starts, the emotions, politicians…” he said.

“No one is trying to do in the Namibian public, those who fought for the land are also demanding their land. Land was taken by the Germans and then the Boers took it during apartheid. Then Swapo and Swanu took up arms to fight for the land, and those people are also demanding.” With Nama and Ovaherero leaders already having distanced themselves from any involvement in the commission, and multiple claims being lodged for certain areas, this is indeed a dangerous powder keg. However, this commission, which has already heard the pleas of ordinary Namibians to halt the sale of land to foreigners, cannot and must not devolve into a political football. We cannot have a situation where millions are spent, simply to have the ancestral land issue kicked to touch after the upcoming general election. It also cannot be a case of the powers that be pointing to the commission and saying: “Look, we did something.” The emotions of the majority, especially with regard to land, are no playground.

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