LPM, AR still chasing land shadows – analysts

27 July 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia’s land messiahs - the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) - have hit a series of hurdles after pushing radical political campaigns with the lofty promise of swift land delivery, and are now stuck behind red tape eight months after being elected to office.

Both are leftish political movements that gained popularity on the land distribution card, where they say the ruling party, Swapo, has failed since independence.

Analysts pointed out that while AR and LPM have gained support - not least for their stance on urban and rural land and the need for redistribution - they have obtained a significant degree of political influence.

According to political analyst Henning Melber, power to implement declared goals through governance is, however, an entirely different matter.

“Control over municipal or regional administrations is one thing, but governance through central state institutions is an entirely other one. This means that there is a lot of mileage still to be covered for these political agencies to obtain necessary access to the agencies formulating and implementing policy through central government, which in the end remains the ultimately decisive factor,” he said.

Melber also foresees that the baptism of fire is likely to cost the infant movements as they are bound to lose legitimacy as their voters expect them to deliver immediately.

“This clearly is more wishful thinking than reality, as the current spat around Job [Amupanda] documents. Being the mayor of Windhoek does not mean that fundamental policy changes with regard to urban land are secured on a sustainable long-term basis, since there are other, as important - if not more important - factors of influence. The same applies to rural land redistribution, a challenge the LPM is facing.”

Too short

Meanwhile, political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah argued that the eight months AR leader Amupanda has served as mayor is too short a yardstick to measure service delivery on the party’s election promises.

“Land delivery is a difficult and complex task to tackle because there are a lot of elements involved. The problem of land here in Namibia is structural in nature due to our capitalist-oriented economy. What they need [is] to address the structural aspect of land in terms of systems, processes and institutional arrangements. “In the absence of a transformative approach that aims at dismantling structural issues, they are doomed. You can't reform a capitalist system and expect to deliver your transformative promises,” he said.

Despite LPM and AR being in a gentleman’s agreement to work together on land delivery, they seem to struggle to work together as tempers flared in public recently.

LPM spokesperson Eneas Envula, however, stated that given the background of the LPM leadership and its relationship with AR, there is a need to start redressing historical and stagnating issues that currently haunt the country. “On the issue of the City of Windhoek coalition council, we have time and again mentioned that the development agenda was undermined at the onset during the negotiations that brought about the existence of the coalition. The current sitting coalition opted to rather prioritise their individualism than the collective developmental agenda.

Refusal

“There is no way that any governing body can achieve what the electorate aspire to - by virtue of what was promised to them during campaigns - if holding office is marred by what an individual stands to gain as opposed to maintaining the overhanging objective of holding office in the first place.

“This is the approach taken that LPM did not and will not agree to. Hence our refusal to be part of such a fragmented and self-centred approach to the governance of Windhoek,” he said.

“We, however, do still have high aspirations to engage them on what we warned them about before and getting the machinery back, but on the right track this time.”

According to Envula, the LPM is in coalitions with other political parties such as the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), with whom they “work quietly and impressively to implement the manifesto”.

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