12 EDITORIAL Friday, July 21 2017 | NEW ERA End the politics of polarisation Our country faces a myriad of challenges which, with political will and common cause, can be successfully tackled. But galvanising political will in a nation with polarising politics like ours can be a daunting task. Whose political will would one impose when politicians in our country are each pulling in their own direction? The plight of the common man has been elbowed to the periphery, as the direction of discourse tilts to personalities rather than issues. What characterises Namibian politics today is no longer a conversation about solutions, but that of belittling those at the opposite end of the political spectrum. It’s the politics of blame and bashing and outmanoeuvring of opponents – real or imagined. Freedom of speech has been diluted by the obsession for Facebook ‘likes’, and being robust has been replaced by rudeness. Those that are polite are mistaken for being weak and have often found themselves at the bottom of the political food chain. In fact, being humble, honest and adherent to the statutes of both political parties and the country is often suicidal. Our politics seems to celebrate and reward thuggery and hooliganism. It is true that historically, politics has never been a clean trade. But while it has evolved over decades to inject an element of civilisation, Namibian politics seem to regress with time. No debate takes place in Namibia’s political space without bile being spewed in the direction of opponents. Politicians, like unguided missiles during their war of words, often forget that their primary duty is to provide space in which the common man can be assisted to emerge out of his quagmire. Where, for example, is the mention of the SME Bank employees in the current political conversation? Who in our politics has taken it upon themselves to spearhead the struggle of these and other workers? Namibian politicians on both sides of the divide are interested in election results ahead of party congresses, or other platforms at which their bread stands to be buttered. The common man is forgotten in all this. Namibia needs politics of accommodation, where the greater interest of all citizens is the dominant theme. Let’s debate each other on whether free primary education is working, and should therefore be extended to the higher echelons of our education system, or what should be radically done to end worker exploitation across industries. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes the happy life intended for man by nature as one lived in accordance with virtue, and, in his Politics, he describes the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry. Let’s enrich government’s approach to combating poverty and stimulating economic growth. Let’s discuss poaching and climate change and how politics can be a catalyst in bringing about muchneeded change. Even new political groupings and social movements that seem to emerge out of general frustration have resorted to personal attacks and antagonism instead of clarifying the issues at stake. Such is the tragedy of our politics. N million fine for lion bones The problem is the courts. Will they give such sentences? In my view, the law should state the minimum sentence and maximum sentence. For one the law lacks the minimum sentence, giving room for court to give lesser sentence because the law only talk about the maximum sentence. - Celestin Mukosoh What bumper harvest, New Era? What bumper crop harvest? Is the harvest at 150 percent of what we need to feed ourselves? Or will we still need to import maize, and if so, please stop reporting misleading information. We can’t have a “bumper” crop harvest and still import over hundreds of thousands tons of crop products to feed ourselves. Please raise the bar for “bumper” to start at least from 101 percent self-sufficiency. - Gideon Garoeb Job creation at new shopping malls This [new shopping mall development in Walvis Bay] is awesome, but will 90 percent of the stores be South African-owned, paying us minimum wages and banking their money in South African banks with no real impact on our Gross Domestic Product? - Michelle Strauss
Friday, July 21 2017 | NEW ERA thought leaders 13 Towards the people’s land conference The Landless People’s Movement (LPM)’s People’s Land Conference, scheduled for September 8 and 9, 2017 intends to address issues around ancestral land, land restitution and restorative justice, domestic land resettlement policies and agrarian reform efforts. The conference shall also be a renewed and sustained effort by LPM to bring to fore Namibian government’s, and by implication the ruling Swapo’s intransigent stance on trampling on indigenous people’s rights and continued refusal to engage peasants on land dispossession by the successive colonial regimes of the Imperial German and Apartheid South Africa. Indeed, this is some sort of a new internationalism, wherein which LPM shall seek to forge strategic alliances with global peasant movements to bring to fore the landlessness, inequality, poverty and skewed land resettlement policies towards land dispossessed communities in Namibia. Governments’ mishandling of the so-called resettlement programmes is at the core of the agenda. The continued exclusion of the ancestral land question, and denial of land dispossession, moreso, the critical components of restorative justice, land restitution, land and mineral resource nationalism in the internally displaced communities and land dispossessed areas are forming the core of the grievances of the indigenous peoples and peasants’ demands. A case in example is the Etosha National Park claims by the indigenous Hai//om community. The indigenous communities and the peasants, south from the red line are unashamedly speaking in unison that the current resettlement programmes only favour those who have not lost their ancestral land, and to those who have not necessarily suffered from the brunt of land dispossession during the successive colonial regimes. During LPM and NANGOF consultations, especially in the eight regions where colonial practices of land dispossession were rampant, the grassroots people were saying that government’s land resettlement policy is merely a new apartheid policy in a new wine bottle. LPM has injected a radical policy approach towards land resettlement in Namibia. After Bernadus Swartbooi was fired as deputy minister of land reform by President Hage Geingob last year, for rightfully speaking out against continued unfair distribution of agricultural land, land talks have preoccupied government’s agenda. Precisely to address such unfairness and inequality, LPM took a decision during its strategy and tactics workshop on 12 May 2017, to convene its own People’s Land Conference, and to come up with what shall be known as the People’s Land Manifesto. The aim of such a people’s land manifesto would be to guide LPM during governments national land conference, if we are invited at all, that is. It shall also serve as our freedom charter in advocacy programmes, which shall ultimately lead to globalising the local indigenous peoples and peasants land struggles. Indeed, the current land resettlement programme and land policies are riddled with corruption, favouritism, political patronage, elitism and ethnicity in its outlook and implementation. Apart from issues ranging from lack of vision, moral and ethical leadership at the ministry of land reform, with its chief technical partners, the GIZ, this conference shall also aim at agrarian reform in Namibia in its totality. We believe that with the agrarian reform policy in place, communal farmers in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, Zambezi and Kavango East and West would reap greater benefits, which shall result in huge yields and agricultural potential. In order to prepare for the People’s Land Conference, thematic working groups have been established to interrogate and expand upon key issues related to land reform. The consultations held by NANGOF and LPM identified key technical thematic areas that should form the basis of the People’s Land Manifesto and require technical input. A conversation on land reform and agrarian reform is critical to understand the overall economics of agriculture to the GDP, and to further raise awareness on the economic and financial impact of land reform in terms of socio-economic development and empowerment. Agrarian reform is currently a buzzword in international agricultural business and land reform activism, but it seems chief policy makers, agricultural economists and economic planners at the ministry of agriculture often have a somewhat unsophisticated understanding of it. This often leads to aborted plans and initiatives that are unscientific, unfocused and ineffective. There is no synergy between the ministries of agriculture and land reform, which could lead to greater reforms for food sovereignty, water and energy security. An interventionist approach in which agrarian reform is intended to contribute to fundamental change and transformation is critical. The most important interventionist strategy in the agricultural sector would be a greater investment in holistic applied research on agrarian reform and land reform in order to develop and formulate effective strategic plans, policies, programmes and initiatives. An integrated agrarian and land reform strategy, encompassing all strategic stakeholders is required to leverage on the resources and bridge the gap that exists in the agribusiness sector. At the People’s Land Conference, LPM will attempt to showcase best practices, actions and initiatives that would confidently address challenges and offer remedies to current malaise in the country. We hope that such a frank engagement will enhance understanding and knowledge sharing prior to, during, and post-conference on sustainable land reform programmes and agricultural output. Socio-economic impacts, such as wealth creation from the land, support and improvement of SME farming, employment creation and contribution to GDP and nation building are critical variables. A much more radical interventionist approach would be to recommend that the current review processes of the national resettlement policy by government be rejected with all the contempt it deserves, pending the inclusion of the recognition of the ancestral land question without any compromise, consensus or conditions, and that land dispossession by the successive colonial regimes be accepted as a crime against humanity for future land restitution claims, resettlement purposes and planning by government. Other extreme options available are the expropriation of land without any compensation and civil disobedience, which shall include invasion of all commercial farms and radical land-grabbing programme. The conference will also consider international case studies on land restitution claims with an expressed aim to take its case to the High Court. Also, other networks of solidarity and legal avenues could be explored, such as taking our case to SADC, the African Union Commission, and the United Nations, Socialist International, World Social Forum and other international forums to plead our case, including before the International Court of Justice and Arbitration. These processes would also enable LPM to seek solidarity with other progressive nations of the world. The logical outcome would be that the indigenous people’s land claims and peasants’ rights must be recognised by the Namibian government. * Henny H. Seibeb is the national chairperson of the People’s Land Conference. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org Remembering Kosie Pretorius “I am, therefore, thankful to… Kosie Pretorius, chairman of the Monitor Action Group, for providing me the Hansard that served as the primary source of this thesis. Pretorius also welcomed me to his home when I needed to clarify my thoughts. I take a jibe at him below, which is poor reward for his ongoing hospitality to me.” These are the words in the acknowledgements of my PhD thesis. When I visited him to present a copy, he laughed and acknowledged that he didn’t take it personally when he read criticism directed at him. Most importantly, he acknowledged that scholars are protected by academic freedom in order to record history correctly. The role Mr Pretorius played in the drafting of the Namibian Constitution cannot be minimised. He was one of the 21 members of the drafting committee, who were tasked with coming up with a draft constitution of Namibia for consideration by the Constituent Assembly. It is safe to say the discussions were not always easy. Pretorius’ conservative views did not serve him well. In the discussion of the draft proposal on a Bill of Rights, Pretorius was in favour of a clause that allowed discrimination of the admission of pupils or recruitment of staff based on race, colour or creed. He believed very strongly that the principle clashed with the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief, which will make it impossible for religious private schools not to discriminate on that basis. This view was strongly opposed by Barney Barnes, a coloured or mixed race member of the DTA party, because ― the purpose of drafting the constitution was precisely to eliminate Audrin Mathe discrimination. Given the deep-seated feelings prevailing among the majority of people – having just come out of a repressive apartheid rule, Pretorius should have foreseen that his comments would bring to light attitudes which the Namibian people have waged an armed struggle for. Pretorius insisted that ― according to this United Nations document there must be freedom of religion, belief and worship and teaching, the right to train and appoint leaders. This statement seemed to confirm suspicion among some delegates – especially Swapo members - that Pretorius was determined to perpetuate discrimination. This is clear from the remarks of Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, who gently reminded the assembly members that Namibia was emerging from the nightmare of apartheid and it was therefore necessary to close all the loopholes that can be used to bring about an end to that nightmare. In another heated discussion, Mr Pretorius objected to the inclusion of the word “secular” in the constitution on the assumption that the State didn’t recognise Christianity. In fact, he wanted Christianity to be mentioned explicitly. What the term simply meant was that the State does not recognise one religion over another and that all faiths were protected. Pretorius was widely respected in the community for his Christian faith. Reconciling his strong faith and his opposition to include “secular” in the constitution was hard to understand. But he quickly understood that accepting the offer on the table and then asking for more may be the most effective route when you‘re at a power disadvantage, as he was. When the Constituent Assembly became the National Assembly, Mr Pretorius became one of its erudite members. He became the first and only Member of Parliament to introduce a Private Member’s Bill. He knew he would not succeed. He tried anyway. At the end of the road, Pretorius knew when to hang up his boots. He quit Parliament and the leadership of his party. He believed he had fought his battles the best he could. It was time for someone with a new pair of glasses to look at the problem anew. He called my office at the beginning of the year. He didn’t find me. That would have been the last time I would have spoken with him. * Dr Audrin Mathe is the chief executive officer of New Era Publications Corporation.