Mushelenga, Zaaruka clash at land meeting

Tempers flared at a regional meeting held in preparation for the second national land conference.

31 July 2018 | Agriculture

KENYA KAMBOWE

A two-day Oshana regional consultative meeting, ahead of the country’s second national land conference in October, was temporarily overshadowed by a walkout by businessman Ben Zaaruka and some young people battling to get their contributions heard.

Urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga clashed with Zaaruka, saying the businessman’s views were not superior to those of others.

In the end, the delegates adopted resolutions that will be presented at the national conference, scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 October in Windhoek.

Among the resolutions were that farmland owned by foreigners and absentee farmers should be expropriated without compensation.

The region also resolved that the national resettlement policy needed to be reviewed to include special categories, such as for war veterans, young people and people living with disabilities.

It also wanted the land conference to place a high priority on food production and security.

On Friday, the second day of the meeting, Zaaruka walked out after disagreeing with the facilitators, as well as Mushelenga.

The drama started when Zaaruka sought clarity on why delegates were not presented with a copy of the region’s position paper, prepared during an in-house meeting about two weeks ago.

“The region has prepared a position paper, but we do not have a copy of it. Most of us can also not see on the board and there are decisions which the people at the front are endorsing. Some of us are sitting here for the first time and we want to give our input,” Zaaruka said.

He also questioned why issues were not being debated, before decisions were made.

While Zaaruka was having a conversation with facilitator Erastus Negonga, a number of attendees indicated non-verbally that the altercation should be stopped.

Shortly thereafter, Mushelenga rose and addressed Zaaruka, denying the allegation that people were not being allowed to give their input.

Mushelenga then told Zaaruka he should not think his views are superior to those of others.

He said prior consultations were done in the various towns and constituencies, and people had given their views.

Mushelenga said Zaaruka should not make it a problem for other people, if he did not attend those meetings.

“It does not mean if you disagree with others your views are superior views. We all have rights and our rights end where the rights of others start. Let us proceed with the meeting procedures,” Mushelenga said.

In an attempt to calm the situation, Great Wings Promotions owner, Ben Mulongeni, said Zaaruka should be given a chance to express his views. This was agreed upon unanimously by the gathering.

Zaaruka then starting talking about the issue of amending the constitution before looking at expropriating land without compensation.

The moment Zaaruka completed his sentence, some attendees immediately raised points of order, while calling on Negonga not to entertain Zaaruka’s comments.

They demanded that the microphone be taken from him.

Minutes after the microphone was taken away from him, Zaaruka left the hall.

As the meeting proceeded, further chaotic moments arose during the discussions, as young people started calling on Negonga to recognise them and give them a chance to speak.

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