Land awareness ahead of conference
At an informal land conference in Stampriet, a disgruntled landless peasant said his Swapo membership has brought him zero benefit, indicating that he is at wit’s end about what to do to obtain party favours.
Stampriet resident Helmuth Gert Appolus said that even as members of the Swapo party they are not resettled. “Some of us are bona fide and committed Swapo Party members and have voted for the ruling party, but still we can not qualify for resettlement”, an irate Appolus stated asking what else they can do so that they too can benefit.
The urgent need for resettlement was one of the concerns raised by the community during a NANGOF Land Reform working group consultative meeting held over the previous weekend in preparation for the second Land Conference to be held in November. The delegation started a community land consultative drive in the Hardap region to help communities prepare for the upcoming conference.
The Land Reform working group is spearheaded by community activists, Uhuru Dempers and Sima Luipert, a social scientist by profession. Both have their roots in community activism from their pre-independence days as members of the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO).
According to the residents who attended the consultative meeting, one white family owns more than two farms while the community is squeezed into 13,000 hectares of land. Community Co-operative Chairperson, Rebekka Fleermuis informed the meeting that they had resolved to establish a committee through the structures of the existing cooperative to represent them at the Land Conference. “This time around, we want our voices to be heard,” she emphasized.
According to Fleermuis the only places they can call “farms” are the backyards of their houses where they keep their livestock. “Keeping livestock in the backyard is a health hazard,” she noted.
She added that landlessness has led to aggravated poverty while many people have resorted to alcohol abuse because of what she termed the mushrooming of shebeens at the settlement. Fleermuis claimed that some shebeen owners have even threatened to kill her because of her stand against their alcohol businesses that are mostly owned by Owambos.
“These people have no regard for the well being of our people,” she stressed.
Fleermuis said the primary cause of poverty in Stampriet is landlessness. “Yet the government, despite saying[their] program addresses poverty, does not resettle the landless.” Other members of the community said they will draw up a petition demanding that underutilised farms should not be advertised but reserved for cooperatives. They claimed that a significant number of commercial farms are underutilised.
Meanwhile, Dempers has announced that a Landless People’s conference will be held after the regional consultations to review and discuss the inputs from the respective regions. The civic consultations will continue in the Karas, Omaheke, Kunene south, Otjozondjupa, Khomas and Erongo regions.