Shining a light in shady corners

29 June 2018 | Opinion

Ombudsman John Walters announcement that he will hold public hearings as part of his efforts to investigate the manner in which the government allocates resettlement farms is to be welcomed and supported.

The public hearings will take place on 3 July at Mariental, 5 July at Gobabis, 10 July at Otjiwarongo, 11 July at Karibib, 24 July at Keetmanshoop and 26 and 27 July in Windhoek.

They follow the launch of a full-scale investigation by Walters into government's land resettlement process. He has also requested a master list of beneficiaries from the land reform ministry, which is critical to his probe.

Walters' investigation follows the awarding of a resettlement farm to the widow of late struggle icon Andimba Herman Toivo Ya Toivo, who was already resettled in 2015 on Gross Otjomune, a resettlement farm in the Erongo Region.

The efforts being made by the ombudsman deserve recognition, as they will strike at the heart of a land resettlement system that has seen the connected and elite benefit to the detriment of the poor and landless.

With the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement also calling on all Namibians, in particular AR supporters, to attend the public hearings and submit facts and evidence, these land hearings will indeed be interesting and fruitful.

We would also like to reiterate the call for all resettlement farm applicants, who applied and were never informed of the outcome, to submit their names and all details, so these can be shared with Walters.

For far too long, the resettlement process has been conducted in shady corners, where those involved in committees have dished out farms, not to the needy, but to purported relatives and friends who are connected to the elite.

As has been rightfully pointed out, in many cases farms were given to people who did not meet the criteria and rules were flouted to favour the political elite and their family and friends.

This is not only irregular and unsustainable, given the tensions around land, but also deepens the abject poverty of the majority.

Walters needs our full support as he challenges these sinister forces, who are hell bent on benefiting the currently advantaged elite.

A bright light needs to be shone in these dark corners, where corruption and favouritism still breeds unabated.

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