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New Era Newspaper Friday July 21, 2017

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14 Thought Leaders

14 Thought Leaders Friday, July 21 2017 | NEW ERA GIPF investment in Bank Windhoek – an interesting private initiative The successful acquisition by the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) of 25 percent in Capricorn Investment Group (CIG) at a cost of N billion is commendable. But from my perspective it needs further scrutiny vis-àvis other compelling national investment opportunities in the country. Capricorn Investment Group is the majority shareholder in Bank Windhoek that has an asset value of more than N billion based on the company’s recent financial statements. GIPF, with a pension fund asset value of more than N billion, is 100 percent owned by the Namibian government whose specific mandate is to collect, manage and distribute (pay out) pension funds on behalf of all government employees, among others. The successful regulatory approval of this deal has ensured going forward that GIPF in conjunction with Nam-mic Financial Services as strategic shareholders have the controlling interest of more than 51 percent of Bank Windhoek. This by all means is a significant development in the Namibian he emotive and issue In one of the local newspapers an article said that 65,000 hectares of private game reserve are being intended to be sold on open market possibly to a non-Namibian buyer. I was shocked and agonized for a moment before I decided to write this article. What came to my mind immediately is what Chief Samuel Maharero did when Germans wanted land from him. He simply sent people to get a basket of sand and gave the Germans that sand instead of selling his land. Equally, I remember when Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva said: “While I am alive I will never give land to strangers.” This year we are going to have a second land conference. This conference is very important and a serious event. The person who is going to be at the helm of such a conference must be capable and live up to the expectations of the nation. The right person to chair such a serious conference is our President Hage G. Geingob, who has a brilliant history of chairing the Constituent Assembly, as well as being a prime minister for a long time and who had also chaired a similar first land conference. banking sector. However and before I proceed, I would like to acknowledge that GIPF does make provision of close to N billion for investment in unlisted local business entities which sadly is underutilized due to the poor marketing of this facility. It is however important at this juncture and for the purpose of this article to note the significant comparison of the N billion to the N billion that has been invested in a single business entity relative to a pool for others to share. As clearly demonstrated above, GIPF as the largest pension fund administrator in Namibia has the financial muscle to potentially change the domestic investment landscape of the country but instead invests more than 90 percent of its financial resources in South Africa and elsewhere rather than significantly in the domestic market which is reeling with a lot of investment opportunities. This is a clear sign that on behalf of the Namibian Government as its main shareholder, it rather invests funds that are collected from Namibians into foreign markets The issue of land is an emotive one and people should be very sensitive when dealing with this rather serious national issue. The unanimous feeling of the indigenous people of this country is that they were mercilessly driven into substandard areas known as ‘Native Reserves; while their ancestral land was taken by force and became commercial farms of people from other countries. Although we should welcome people from foreign countries in our motherland, there are certain things that we cannot simply do or make available to people from other countries, since by doing so we run the risk of disadvantaging and jeopardizing the future livelihood of the very same people of our country whom we have liberated. I have raised this issue in the past and now that it seems to be persisting it might be appropriate to emphasize it again. In this regard we surely have to be careful not to forget that after independence we took over a country where the government was faced with lots of challenges. One of such challenges and problems was the most visible inequitable ownership of land. The rather than in Namibia, which can be seen as having a total lack of investment confidence in Namibia as compared to investment opportunities in other nations. These kinds of backward decisions are to a large extent contributing to the dismal state of the nation now experiencing high unemployment levels, poverty and destitution due to the extreme lack of sustained large-scale money supply and circulation in the Namibian economy. This sad picture confirms that Namibia is a net exporter of domestic generated capital to develop other nations instead of its own. Government as the sole shareholder of many business entities including GIPF has a duty to ensure that capital flow is significantly invested domestically in such a way that these business entities become less reliant on state coffers for bailouts. This kind of smart business model would to a large extent lead to the modernization of management principles and processes in state-owned enterprises as capital injection into them will be based on strict business requirements as will be required by the GIPF board of trustees. In the absence of such a business model among and for state-owned enterprises, GIPF would rather continue to invest billions into already well-established business entities such as Bank Windhoek and elsewhere to the detrimental state of stateowned business entities such as TransNamib, RCC and the SME Bank, among others. With that said, the recent closure of the SME Bank and the intended closure of RCC and TransNamib hereby going forward raises a number of strategic investment questions which as government being the main shareholder of all these institutions including GIPF cannot go unchallenged. Bank Windhoek is without a doubt a very successful domestic bank with a very healthy bank balance as compared to the troubled SME Bank. That’s a fact. However, the choice of the main shareholder to allow the demise of the SME Bank at the expense of an investment decision into an already wellestablished bank does not at this stage make any business sense at all especially taking ownership of land in the country is terribly skewed towards the white people, both local and foreign. The land, property and wealth expropriation which was carried out by successive colonial administrations was the genesis of that inequitable property and land ownership, which left the black people of this country landless in their motherland. The land, which belonged to the ancestors of the black people of this country, has become the property of those whose ancestors expropriated the land through colonial confiscation. It will even make things worse and not be in the interest and benefit of the people of this country if the land of our country is recklessly sold to non-Namibians. The important thing we have to recognize is that it is obvious that the struggle for independence was fought not only to eliminate colonial oppression but also to remedy the situation under which most of the people were made landless. After independence the government tried to solve this untenable situation in many ways. However, Article 16 (1) of Chapter 3 of the Constitution of Namibia, read together with Article 25 (1) of the same Chapter 3, made the efforts of the government intangible if not impossible to achieve its goals when it concerned the land owned by minority Namibian citizens and foreign nationals. The only realistic solution to this problem is provided in Article 16 (1) of the Constitution which states: “Parliament may by legislation prohibit or regulate as it deems expedient the right to acquire property by persons who are not Namibian citizens.” This provision will enable the appropriate Minister to approach Parliament to pass into account the historic importance of the bank. This terrible decision defeats the purpose in the first place of establishing the SME Bank. Yes, businesses including GIPF have lost millions of dollars over the years but that does not justify neglecting a strategic asset such as the SME Bank relative to the Namibian economy. The SME Bank simply needed a capital injection of just N0 million to stay afloat but was ignored by its main shareholder and GIPF who instead went ahead to acquire 25% stake at N billion in an already established bank. Government could have through the same GIPF easily acquired an additional 25% or more in the SME Bank for less than N billion with strict business conditions but instead decided otherwise. The Roads Contractor Company (RCC), a strategic national company, is on the verge of being closed down due to a lack of cash flow of just N0 million from its a bill which will prohibit the right of foreign persons to acquire land in Namibia, which is indeed the vital heritage, indispensable, essential and valuable asset of the people of the country. As much as it is important for us to welcome foreign friends in our country who really supported us very much during the protracted struggle for independence of our motherland, such foreign friends may be free to use the land only through usufruct since the people of this country fought and died for their land. Therefore, foreigners should not be allowed to buy land in Namibia. Another reason for not selling land to foreigners is that foreign people have access to foreign currencies and are finding it easy and cheap to buy land in our country whereas our own people will never compete with them. The result and effect of this is that the prices of the land are going up since these foreign buyers do not mind to pay whatever amount is requested from them and the sellers of the land take chances with this situation and hike up the prices of land. Under these circumstances we may be losing our land forever without realizing it. This situation is serious, dangerous and untenable. The question we may ask ourselves is what really big sole shareholder. Ironically, RCC assets are currently ringfenced by Bank Windhoek, which is now under the partial control of GIPF. To all intents and purpose, GIPF could have also capitalized RCC for N billion over a duration of two years with strict business conditions supported by an explicit directive from GRN that 50 percent of all road capital projects be awarded to RCC and the rest for the open market. The shunning of government assets by GIPF in favour of others will in the medium to long term be more beneficial to a privileged few than the intended masses. In the absence of the above, the status quo will continue whereby GRN continues to bail out its companies and GIPF continues to invest with confidence more than 90 percent in South Africa and elsewhere, whilst the public sector intentionally falls apart due to a lack of political and economic leadership. • Pendapala Hangala is a Namibian socio-economist. difference does it make for the land hungry people between the past situation, where the land was taken by force, and the situation whereby foreigners leave their countries and are allowed to buy land which ought to belong to the people of our country, but who cannot afford and compete with such foreigners for reasons beyond their control? The time is long overdue to stop the practice of selling the precious land to foreign persons and in the process subjecting our people to unaffordable and ever increasing land prices. No nation can regard itself as totally free when its precious and indispensable heritage, which is land, is slowly and surely becoming a property of people from other countries and the heirs of ancestral land are slowly and surely reduced to landless “foreigners” in their own country. Therefore, our foreign friends must accept the fact that the independence of Namibia without land will make such independence meaningless to the people; hence it is just prudent for the state not to allow the selling of land to foreign people. It is therefore unacceptable that 65,000 hectares of private land are now being contemplated to be sold to a non-Namibian buyer. This surely will trigger the discontent of landless people, which may result in turmoil.

Friday, July 21 2017 | NEW ERA 15 Were recent consultations on land worth the trouble? The Ministry of Land Reform has lately been crisscrossing the country staging what it terms a “consultative workshop in preparation of the Second National Land Conference”. Surely nobody can, must and should, in their right mind, be against the ministry making appropriate preparations for the said conference. Indeed only good preparations can guarantee partial success. Provided such preparations first and foremost are in terms of all stakeholders having unfettered and genuine requisite, necessary and relevant input first, in the agenda of the upcoming conference. And secondly, inputting into the format of the conference, so that all relevant stakeholders would crucially have as much unfettered contributions from the floor. And lastly, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders, especially those with the land question at their hearts based on their historic link and association to land, and the land question, would not only be invited to the conference but would be The population of Namibia today can be divided into different generations with particular sets of issues that either affect or characterize them as they interact with other generations who also have their own issues. A generation in this sense is a group or cohort of people falling within the same range of age, have fairly similar experiences and can therefore be expected to hold relatively similar assumptions about an issue or challenge they face at any given time, and are more likely than not to have similar responses to challenges as time goes on. At any given time in history, people see things through lenses which are often NOT of their own choosing, and their experience determine how they react. They say you can argue with any one about anything except their experiences. Here are the generations of Namibians today: The Past Generation: The past generation comprises the veritable foundational figures of our history, such as Samuel kaMahahero who persuaded his counterpart allowed to speak out their hearts and minds on the vexed question of land. And to determine that the delegates who would attend the conference, because one cannot expect such a conference to be a free for all, would provide constructive inputs, with appreciation and tolerance of diverse views and sentiments of the various lobbyists and interest groups, barring blind parochialism. Needless to say, the Second National Land Conference must review all aspects of land distribution and redistribution, which entail the country’s land reform policy and its various subtexts like the National Resettlement Policy. Without being preposterous, policy and legal instruments, 27 years after Namibian independence, and the First National Land Conference, the 24 resolutions taken at the First National Land Conference, must by now have been in place. Thus, the Second National Land Conference must revisit, first and foremost, to what extent these resolutions, where necessary, have been codified into laws. And to what extent these laws Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi to cast their eyes beyond tribe and unto the bigger picture along nationalist lines and in so doing forged a formidable genesis of what became Namibian nationalism. There were other figures in different communities across the country that put up resistance to loss of land and identity without whom the known struggles would not have been possible. The Herero Chiefs Council is one most critical component of this generation, for without its members, our evolution towards a One Namibia, One Nation would have been more handicapped. It is on this past that the strong foundation of the struggle for independence was based. It is this past that links us organically to our past. The Fatherhood and Motherhood of our nation go to Herero, Nama and Sam !Khubis figures who looked beyond their parochial circumstances and dreamed of a bigger, larger and more durable Nation in Diversity. The Have-Been-To- Generation: The history of our struggles either have been implemented successfully, and if not, why not? And to look at whether the policies implemented have had the desired outcome, and even unintended consequences and how the latter could be rectified, even if it means redefining such policies. Policies may not have had the desired outcomes, not necessarily because they are not the right policies and laws, but because they have not been observed and implemented properly, not to mention nonimplementation per se. The ministry must be prepared to give account of such policies and laws at the said conference – why the policies for freedom or against freedom left us with psychological bruises and psychic scars of such nature that we find ourselves overstating our own contributions to this or that honourable story. In the climate of clamour for legitimacy and relevance, we are often compelled to tell lies about where we have been. Many people claim to have been in the battle whereas they were mere students or clerks in former Bantustans or international offices. and laws pertaining to land distribution and redistribution, have not, if this is the case, had the desired and intended outcomes. Once the ministry has accounted to the conference in this regard, it would then be further up to the conference to further direct it, as delegates may deem fit. Which could entail that some of the policies in this regard may have been a nonstarter fundamentally, thus needing an overhaul to achieve the desired and intended effects. Or that they may have been ineffective simply because there’s a lack of a political will to realise their desired outcomes. Or the desired outcomes Have-Been-to-People live under illusions of grandeur which eventually become their reality, and in the end they are prepared to defend their lies by any means necessary. The danger is that if they lie about where they started, they are likely not to know the truth about where to go. Hence the looting that goes on in the governance of our national resources. The Lost Generation: The lost generation comprises men and women who emerged as are hindered not only by bureaucratic red tape, but willful actions of the bureaucrats, for their own agendas, not to see the desired outcomes. Still, in some aspects and respects, policies may be non-existent at all. A case in point being any policy on ancestral land, in as much as the National Resettlement Policy speaks of correcting past injustices, including dispossessions. One cannot but wonder if this has been the approach by the ministry with respect to the justended consultations in anticipation of the Second National Land Conference. One understands at the said consultations, without much ado the 24 resolutions were reviewed-rammed down the throats of the unsuspecting participants in the recent consultations. Which raises not only the essence of such consultations but also the effectiveness of such an approach as a purported preparation for the Second National Land Conference. Because the input into the muchawaited land conference should less be a preoccupation of the land reform ministry, unless it significant torchbearers for their peers in whatever they were doing to prepare a better future, and began to move things forward. This category would have personages like Jacob Morenga, Peter Nanyemba, Milner Thlabanello, Brendan Simbwaye, and the likes whose contributions were intercepted by hostile interests and who, when we think of them, we hold the sentiments that if they did not die when they did, they would have made the world different from what it is today. With their passing, Namibia lost something immense, and their spirit is missed as a counterfactual. The Missed Generation: In the life of a community or nation, there are persons who are thought of as those who could have done something but circumstances just did not permit them to do much. Most of our parents and their parents fall in this category. They faced life under sets of conditions that did not allow them to even give good education to their children, not because they failed to becomes suspect to trying to stage-manage the outcomes as well as the agenda of the upcoming Second National Land Conference. On the contrary, these should be the foremost pre-occupation of the various lobbyists like farmers unions, civic organisations, traditional authorities, etc. One has as yet to hear if the said consultations have produced the intended outcomes, such being from the perspective of the land reform ministry and not the landless and land hungry. But initial reports from independent sources who have been attending some of these consultations have by no means been inspiring, like the one in Gobabis on July 14, which is said to have been temporarily aborted for the better half of the first day because civic organisations felt their voices were not being heard. Under these circumstances one cannot but wonder why, what should essentially have been an internal process to the ministry itself in terms of putting in place the necessary preparatory mechanisms for the Second National Land Conference, has but because they could not at the time do it, but did their best. It is through their endurance and gifts to us that we are still here today. There were times when parents did bad things to protect the future of their children, such as teach them racist thoughts in order to protect them from the fangs of a feared government. Any parent would do what is best for his/her child in the context of what is known. Many of our white compatriots’ forebears easily fall under this lot who would have behaved differently had they known better. We are doing things today that might not be viewed as progressive in years to come. The Absent Generation: These are people who we wish did not exist in our lives. In our history as families, communities and as a nation, there are personalities we wish to expunge from our memories for some reason or other. Uncle Mishake Muyongo unfortunately falls in this category because of the manner in which he wrote his epitaph in the it deliberately been entangled in consultations with the landless and land hungry. One cannot but also have reservations about how those who may have been attending these consultations could appropriately and genuinely be said to have been representing the broader views of the various constituents of such an important and crucial issue as land without them rarely, if there were those who did, consulting such constituencies? Basically the so-called consultations must be nothing more than a pure and simple planning process by the authority concerned, not warranting any consultations with the broader institutions and civic society. It is mindboggling how layman landless and land hungry could genuinely be expected to be intelligently and constructively instrumental in the crucial review of the 1991 land conference resolutions. Prior to the long overdue another land conference, a sequel to the first which is not only expected but as a matter of urgency scrutinise the entire land question to date? The Thirteen Generations of Namibians and their Fates Namibian history. This sad trajectory of people’s histories invariably happens when people get too excited about the present and forget that they have a baggage that follows them as well as a legacy that they can still author in a manner that does not leave too sour a taste in people’s mouths, and be absent from their conversations. The Gone Generation: There are people who live and die and their loss is not felt much, no matter how hard they try in the end to explain away the inconveniences they inflicted upon others. Persons such as General Lothar von Trotha who was in charge of the German Order of Extermination during the genocide years, the late Jannie de Wet, the Kommissaris-Generaal van die Inboorlingvolke van SWA (Commissioner General of the Indigenous Nations of SWA) and Pik Botha in South Africa. In their latter years they try to make amends but people prefer them to be gone. – The other seven generations will be published next week.

New Era

New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167