Suspend resettlement - ELCRN

ELCRN has also called on President Hage Geingob to explore all legal, policy and presidential executive powers to cancel deals to sell land to foreigners.

28 June 2019 | Government

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCRN) leadership wants President Hage Geingob to temporarily suspend government's resettlement programme.

ELCRN also called on Geingob to explore all legal, policy and presidential executive powers to cancel deals to sell land to foreigners.

In a statement issued by Bishop Ernst //Gamxamûb, Geingob was urged to institute a comprehensive audit of the resettlement programme and issue a presidential directive for an urgent review, in line with the consensus reached at the country's second national land conference last year.

According to //Gamxamûb, ELCRN is dissatisfied that the national resettlement policy and programme is ongoing, which is in total disregard of a land conference decision that the programme be reviewed and changed in line with conference resolutions.

“Currently a significant number of farms are being hastily acquired by the lands ministry, despite the current drought and economic crisis,” he said.

//Gamxamûb said the programme continues to resettle people using criteria and a policy that were both rejected by the land conference.

“The recently acquired farms can be utilised for emergency grazing by affected farmers in those regions, as part of the drought relief programme, until a new resettlement programme has been finalised.”

The bishop said the farms can also be utilised to resettle landless Namibians who were “dumped” by the land reform ministry on so-called group resettlement farms that have turned out to be worse than colonial reserves.

Land sales to foreigners

//Gamxamûb said they are very concerned and disturbed by the ongoing sales of land to foreigners and Namibians that continue to own excessive land portions.

“The so-called Russian deal for the sale of the land near Dordabis was shameful and a very insensitive move by (land reform) minister Utoni Nujoma at a time when thousand of landless Namibians are crying for land and intense discussions were taking place in preparation of the land conference.”

He said the proposed sale of the Erindi Private Game Reserve to another foreigner also raises serious concerns about the commitment of government towards the outcomes of dialogues at the land conference.

“Instead government must, in line with current constitutional and legal provisions, expropriate Erindi and make it available for the empowerment of Namibians.”

He said Erindi does not have to become a resettlement farm for livestock grazing, but can continue as a tourism business with Namibian ownership, targeting those mostly affected by landlessness and poverty.

//Gamxamûb commended Geingob for having the foresight to act promptly in terms of the establishment of the commission of inquiry into claims of ancestral land rights and restitution on 21 February, as per the resolutions of the second national land conference.

He said the ELCRN leadership actively participated at this historic conference through a high-level delegation led by Deputy Bishop Paul Hatani Kisting. “It is therefore pleasing to note that the commission has commenced its work with urgency and dedication, and will travel during the month of July to various parts of Namibia to conduct intensive public hearings and consultations.”

The ELCRN leadership therefore requests all its rank and file, structures, institutions, and in particular the clergy, to assist, support and encourage affected communities to prepare thoroughly and make submissions to the commission.

“We make the same call to all relevant stakeholders to support this important work of the commission and not to use the process for selfish party-political electioneering and other hidden agendas.”

ELCRN expressed the hope that the final report of the commission will be acted on with urgency and receive the critical priority it deserves.

According to //Gamxamûb the abovementioned issues will be raised with the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) for its support and further action.

They will also engage broader civil society before formally engaging the presidency and government in general.

ELLANIE SMIT

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