Namibian land occupants claim success

2014-12-22 15:43

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Windhoek - Land occupiers in Namibia's holiday coastal town of Swakopmund have negotiated another piece of land to live on, a leader claimed on Monday.

According to group leader Gotthard Kandume, the group have the "moral support" of the newly formed Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), who have themselves vowed to occupy commercial farms.

"After negotiations over with the police on Sunday we were given a piece of unserviced land opposite the plots we occupied last week," said Kandume.

Kandume is also founder and president of the political party Christian Democratic Voice (CDV), which was established in 2012.

"We were informed that the occupied land belongs to the Shack Dwellers Federation who already paid for it. Police negotiated with us to move to land opposite these plots, which we did and we will build our first huts there on Wednesday, Christmas Eve," Kandume said.

"We are grateful that we received moral support from the NEFF. One of their leaders was here over the weekend.

"We named the area we occupied now Kandume's Hillside," he noted.

The Swakopmund municipality said nothing was final until the town council decided on the land issue.

"The town council is currently in recess and any proposals must be brought before it at the next meeting [in January] for decisions," public relations officer Aili Gebhardt said.

NEFF spokesperson Olsen Kahiriri said his party was working together with the CDV with regard to the land occupation at Swakopmund.

"We congratulate the landless people of Swakopmund who successfully occupied land in a peaceful and orderly manner. We work together with CDV on the land issues," Kahiriri said.

"Land occupation in other parts of Namibia might follow. Come January we will target commercial farms in the Okakarara area about 300km north of Windhoek. We will cut the fences and push in our animals for grazing," he said.

"We waited a long time for our [government] leaders to act on the land matter, but they didn't act, so we act now."

The NEFF was established in June this year and has links to the South African Economic Freedom Fighters.

The NEFF under its president Epafras Mukwiilongo, a former ruling Swapo party member, describes itself as a radical left, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement. It says it is against "foreign exploitation" of Namibia's natural resources, including land, which the indigenous people should own.

The NEFF won only 3259 votes in the November elections and did not make it to Parliament.

Government implemented its land reform in 1995. It buys commercial farms from landowners for resettlement if they are willing to sell. An annual land tax for commercial farms was introduced several years ago from which government buys the farms.

Government has to date acquired over two million hectares of land through the willing buyer-willing seller principle for N$900m in total and resettled some 5 000 people.

Read more on:    namibia  |  southern africa
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