November 7, 2003

NAMIBIA: NAFWU calls off planned occupation of farms

The Namibian Farm Workers' Union (NAFWU) has called off its planned occupation of 15 white-owned farms after Swapo had warned to use security forces in order to get them off the land. A five-member Swapo delegation, led by Vice President Hifikepunye Pohamba, met representatives of NAFWU and the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) at the party's headquarters and told the union officials that the Police and the Special Field Force (SFF) would be deployed if the farm workers illegally occupied the farms.

The government held that it would not tolerate lawlessness and unilateral decisions that could unsettle and reverse the progress made so far concerning land distribution. Information Permanent Secretary Mocks Shivute explained: "Resettlement is a national priority and is a voluntary process, therefore, each and every formerly disadvantaged Namibian has the right to be resettled but in a proper and orderly manner”. So far the government has resettled around 37.262 people (6.210 families). Of those, around 9.024 have been placed on 120 commercial farms.

NUNW deputy secretary general Evarustus Kaaronda, on the other hand, explained that the situation got out of hand because the country's leaders had turned a blind eye to the plight of the farm workers. "Many of the black elites have started to turn a blind eye to the plight of the farm workers because they also own farms and are guilty of maltreating their workers. That hypocrisy must stop," said Kaaronda. (The Namibian, Windhoek / Business Day, Johannesburg)

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