No topic taboo

28 September 2018 | Politics

Swapo president Hage Geingob has repeatedly stated that all issues concerning land would be debated in an open and transparent manner at the country's second land conference, including ancestral land claims.

“President Geingob said the land conference will happen in a transparent and inclusive manner, implying that there will not be any subject that is related to land that will be treated as taboo or off-limits,” Geingob's spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said following a Swapo central committee in August.

In an article titled 'No land in sight', published by political scientist Henning Melber in November 2017, he said Swapo declared the land question to be a priority at its 2012 policy conference.

“Since then, public discourse has been marked by mutual recriminations. The government accuses the commercial farmers of sabotage for refusing to sell their land at acceptable prices.

“In the meantime, the commercial farmers' association has published figures that show that the redistribution of land is very much on track to meet the government's targets,” Melber said.

“Tinkering with figures, however, is not a good way to deal with a deeply emotional issue that is linked to senses of identity as well as impotence. The government is not handling these links well. It is high time it took them into account.”

Swapo's first national policy conference in 2012, held while Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana was the party secretary-general, conducted an in-depth analysis and discussions on land acquisition and distribution.

Iivula-Ithana, who was earlier this year fired from Geingob's cabinet, said at the time that land scarcity in Namibia had reached alarming proportions and the party could no longer afford a postponement of a strategic intervention in this regard.

“Our people need access to land and nothing less. At the moment, the Swapo Party is mobilising all its intellectual resources towards a reasonable response to this call,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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