27. July 2015

Victory for the landless as Government and Affirmative Repositioning movement struck a deal?

Thze Namoibian government faces an uphill task to fulfil the agreement reached on Friday with the Affirmative Repositioning movement to service 200 000 plots with an expert saying this could take more than 10 years at a cost of N$1 billion per year. The agreement diffused the tense situation that was building up in the country ahead of the 31 July deadline set by the Affirmative Repositioning movement for local authorities to allocate land mostly to the youth or face unspecified action.

Part of the agreement was that government would clear land nationwide for servicing between Wednesday and 5 August that will be allocated to the landless in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Oshakati.

The parties also agreed that a State-owned institution should be established to provide housing loans at affordable rates and that a technical committee will be established to work out all modalities regarding the land servicing as agreed to in principle.

But an expert, who is also a top government official, was skeptical when he told The Namibian at the weekend that government would need to outsource services considering that so far only about 10 000 plots per year can be serviced because of skills shortages.

The official also said government would require N$1 billion per year to fulfil the agreement and will have to outsource the job to foreign companies to accelerate land servicing.

Although Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila could not be drawn into giving a figure government was intending to spend, she told The Namibian on Saturday that they will this week announce more details about the funding, implementation and the conditions of the technical committee.

Geingob led a team that met AR's leaders Job Amupanda, George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma at State House for about seven hours. AR leaders were accompanied by two lawyers - Kadhila Amoomo and Mbushandje Ntinda - from Sisa Namandje and Co law firm.

Geingob's team was made up of Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, vice president Nickey Iyambo, presidential affairs minister Frans Kapofi, urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa, land reform minister Utoni Nujoma, security minister Charles Namoloh, police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga and presidential economic adviser John Steytler.

The meeting came after the Swapo Party had expelled Amupanda, Kambala, Nauyoma and the youth league secretary Elijah Ngurare for their stand on the land issue. The party's central committee that met in Windhoek on Thursday said the land issue should be dealt with by the government.

Announcing the terms of the agreement on Friday, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the pilot project will start by identifying land that will be cleared and then serviced. She also said Namibians will be asked to volunteer to help service the land.

A statement issued on Saturday by the youth activists said government also agreed to establish a parastatal that will be responsible for servicing land.

The youth said they will have representatives on a technical committee without being paid to ensure smooth implementation. It was also agreed that people in rural areas will get title deeds to their land.

Other agreements reached in principle include radical policies on land and property rent control.

“We call on all landless youth to support, defend and popularise these outcomes and this statement. These are your outcomes,” the land activists said.

Amupanda and his group applauded Geingob. “We thank him for his fatherly fortitude and ignoring the negative vibes and information that is being peddled about the youth and AR. We feel led by our President,” the group said.

Geingob himself sounded hopeful after Friday's meeting, saying the youth were polite. “I didn't hear any insults as expected by some of you,” Geingob, who even called Amupanda 'comrade', said. “As I told you, I was also a radical. Let's work together,” he added.

Like former President Hifikepunye Pohamba's mass housing programme, the promise to service mass land is now regarded as Geingob's legacy project.

Even Shanghala said he was proud of both Geingob and the 'boys' for serving the best interests of the country by bringing the land issue to the fore. “I'm proud of the President and his team, I'm proud of those boys because they saw that violence and ultimatums don't serve the best interests of bringing the land situation to the fore of government's agenda,” Shanghala said on Saturday.

Shanghala, who did not attend Friday's meeting, saying he was in Zimbabwe for another meeting, criticised the use of State machinery to intimidate the youth for settling personal scores. He also urged the Law Society of Namibia to pronounce itself on whether lawyers involved in the Affirmative Repositioning movement “may erode the integrity of the legal profession”.

Meanwhile, the AR has called off land occupations. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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