POHAMBA SAYS WHITES WHO REFUSE TO SELL LAND ARE A THREAT TO PEACE

THE NAMIBIAN By CHRISTOF MALETSKI 13 March 2015

"WHITES who refuse to sell land to the government for redistribution to the needy are selfish, do not think properly and are a threat to peace in the country," President Hifikepunye Pohamba has said.

Pohamba made the statement in a wide-ranging interview which will be published by The Namibian in a special 25th independence anniversary magazine next week.

This is not the first time the President has expressed such sentiments about those who own land but are reluctant to sell it to the government.

In 2012 Pohamba told Al Jazeera news channel that Namibia risks a revolution if land reform is not addressed urgently.

“I think something has to be done to amend the Constitution so that the government is allowed to buy the land for the people. Otherwise, if we do not do that we will face a revolution. And if the revolution comes, the land will be taken over by the revolutionaries,” he told Al Jazeera in an interview.

During the interview with The Namibian, Pohamba pointed out that the slow land acquisition through the willing-seller willing-buyer initiative was one of the main challenges which his government faced.

The others were the senseless killing of women and children and the rate of corruption.

“I have not seen it but what we have done is to establish an institution - the Anti-Corruption Commission. That institution is not controlled by government, not even by the President. It is an independent institution headed by Namibians. We appeal to Namibians to report corruption to this body. Not to me or not to the government. It operates independently. Report acts of corruption to them,” Pohamba said about corruption.

Pohamba rubbished claims that he failed to fight corruption.

“Do they expect Pohamba to investigate who is corrupt? Institutions have been set up. We have the police and the ACC. We appeal to the people, including yourself, and members of the editorial board of The Namibian to report corrupt acts to the independent institution that has been set up. I have not seen any corrupt person but when people talk, I want to believe there is corruption. And as I believe there is corruption, I want to see the deeds being reported to ACC,” he said.

According to Pohamba, corruption is not a challenge for those in government alone.

“It is (a challenge) to the Namibian society. That is how I look at it,” he said.

On land, Pohamba said white land barons do not want to sell land to the government for distribution to the landless.

“This situation is not good. If you have 10 000 hectares, you better sell 5 000 hectares to the government. By so doing you are in support of peace in this country. The country cannot be peaceful if you have people with huge tracts of land and others without land. Your selling is for peace and for Namibia,” he said.

Pohamba said there are already signs of unhappiness with the lack of land and it cannot be allowed to get worse.

“People have started grabbing the land here and there. Why can't those with land come to their senses? If people have no land, do you really expect peaceful coexistence? We won't confiscate land but we say those with huge tracts must come to their senses if they want to see the continuation of peace in this country,” he said.

According to the President, those who refuse to sell land “don't think properly”.

“They are selfish but when the disturbance of peace comes, they will run to the government. Unfortunately, the people I am talking about are historically those whose forefathers came from outside Namibia, if not this continent. They are the people with a different colour of skin,” he said.

The President said the white land owners should know that “we are all Namibians and let all Namibians think properly. If they are not thinking properly, they are going to disturb peace in this country”.

When he briefed the nation on his Cabinet structure on Wednesday, President-elect Hage Geingob also bemoaned the lack of land but said whites born in the country have the same right to land as blacks.

At another ceremony yesterday Geingob clarified his statement by adding that owning land without using it productively will not benefit anyone.

“It's true we want land, but it must be made productive. It doesn't mean if you own land, you will automatically become rich,” he said.

Two years ago the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement announced that Namibia would need about N$1,5 billion in the next four years to acquire 280 000 ha per year for resettlement.

A ministerial strategic plan revealed last year that the State had forked out about N$770 million to acquire 2,4 million hectares of farm land since independence.

Government planned to acquire 77 000 ha (roughly 15 farms of 5 000 ha each) in the 2013-14 financial year, 64 000 hectares last year and 50 000 ha this financial year.

Previously the Namibia Agricultural Union said formerly disadvantaged Namibians now own more than nine million hectares of commercial farmland, about two-thirds of government's resettlement target for 2020

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By Anneke Campbell