May 3, 2004

President warns "racist farmers"

The Namibian Government will expropriate land to punish farm owners who "dumped" their workers by the roadside, President Sam Nujoma said. Speaking at May Day celebrations at Karibib, Nujoma issued an unequivocal declaration that expropriation of farms would not only target underused land but would serve as a punitive measure. "We will not, and my Government will not, tolerate insults in that way," he said after singling out "some white farmers". Nujoma noted that a few "minority racist farmers" had not only evicted workers who had lived on the land for decades but had also told them to get "accommodation" from the Government. He said that Government's policy of national reconciliation was an indication that "we are not racist". However, "some of the whites are behaving as if they came from Holland or Germany with land... steps will be taken and we can drive them out of this land. We have the capacity to do so. My Government will expropriate this land as an answer to the insult to my Government. We want peace in this country." Apart from farm labourers, Nujoma decried the employment conditions of security guards and domestic workers and promised policy changes. He said the Social Security Commission was looking after the welfare of the workers, and announced the increase of the death benefit payout from N$2 500 to N$3 000, to the applause of the audience.

The President delivered his statement shortly after Bro Joseph K Hengari, Acting General Secretary of the Mineworkers' Union of Namibia (MUN) had read the May Day speech of National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) president Risto Kapenda. He complained that Namibian diamonds were "leaving the country unprocessed and are controlled by individual families of international diamond dealers, to the detriment of the nation". He also explained that Namibian diamonds should be sent directly to cutting factories in the country for value addition and criticised the maladministration of parastatals. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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