The issue of land cannot be circumvented or ignored any longer and has to be faced head-on and in this regard President of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob inaugurated a commission of inquiry into claims of ancestral land rights and restitution.
Upon appointing the commission of inquiry President Geingob emphasised urgency, impartiality, professionalism and fairness in the execution of its mandate.
The constitution of the Commission called into existence and Commissioners appointed in terms of the powers vested in the President by Section 1 (1) of the Commissions Act 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947), is in line with the resolutions of the Second National Land Conference held in Windhoek from 1-5 October 2018.
The following persons have been appointed members of the Commission:
1. Hon. Justice Shafimana Ueitele, Chairperson
2. Mr. Phanuel Kaapama, Deputy Chairperson
3. Gaob Immanuel /Gâseb
4. Mr. Ryno Van der Merwe
5. Dr. Helmke Jens Sartorius von Bach
6. Mr. Uhuru Dempers
7. Dr. Marius Kudumo
8. Prof. Lazarus Hangula
9. Rev. Willem Konjore
10. Mr. Neels Kooper
11. Mr. Josef Petrus Van der Westhuizen
12. Mrs. Anna Fredericks
13. Mrs. Nadia M Le Hane
14. Ms. Jeaneth Kuhana
15. Ms. Ingenesia Inge Murangi
Ms. Ndiakupi Nghituwamata, Director of Resettlement, Ministry of Land Reform has been appointed Secretary to the Commission.
In his Charge to the Commission Dr. Geingob emphasised the complexity of ancestral land claims. He also emphasised the primacy of peace and stability by ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Constitution are not infringed upon.
“There is no doubt that the issue of dispossession from Ancestral Land requires concerted efforts for healing and provision of social justice. The devastating effects and aftershocks of the brutal policies of colonialism and apartheid continue to reverberate in the psyche of Namibians to this day. The untold suffering experienced by our nation cannot be ignored or circumvented, but must be faced head on. Your experience and expertise is being called upon to interrogate these matters extensively in order to identify statutory and policy reforms that will help buttress our efforts to redress communities that were subjected to untold injustices, which resulted in the dispossession of their ancestral land.”
The Commission is tasked to investigate ancestral land claims and produce a report that will assist Government and affected parties to effectively implement the resolutions of the Second National Land Conference. It is established under the following Terms of Reference:
1. To inquire into and report generally on the claims of ancestral land rights and restitution to groups and individuals and, more particularly, but without derogating from the generality of the aforesaid, to inquire and report on –
(a) the generation of a common understanding and consensus on the definition of ancestral land rights and restitution;
(b) the commissioning of a study to identify communities who have lost ancestral land;
(c) the establishment of the sizes of ancestral land lost and boundaries;
(d) the determination of the limit of the pre-independence ancestral land claims;
(e) the incorporation of a special provision in the resettlement criteria to fairly address the situation of the most affected communities;
(f) the identification of alternative restorative measures to restore social justice and ensure economic empowerment of the affected communities;
(g) the use of reparation from the former colonial powers for restitution;
(h) the making of proposals regarding the right of servitude in the legislation in order to have access to burial sites in addition to expropriation;
(i) the ensuring of participation of the previously advantaged on land matters;
(j) the formulation of legislation to cater for ancestral land claims and restitution;
(k) the investigation of possible unintended consequences of ancestral land claims and restitution, as well as appropriate mitigation measures (e.g. the issues related to perceived possible discrimination against other population groups);
(l) the determination of how the claim on ancestral land should be premised on the human rights principle and standards guaranteed in the Namibian Constitution as well as international and regional human rights instruments binding on Namibia;
(l) the differentiation of various forms of ancestral land claims;
(m) the recommended land allocation mechanisms that prioritizes the most affected communities;
the determination and recommendation on how the ancestral land claims could be used as an instrument to enhance national reconciliation;
(o) the invitation to communities and individuals to rename places with colonial names back to traditional original names where possible (where there are no controversies);
(p) the recommendation on how the empowerment and special recognition of women from the most affected communities could be promoted;
(q) the recommendation on how the affected communities could be included in structures created to address the issue of ancestral land;
(r) the identification of alternative land in communal and commercial areas for the resettlement of communities to be repatriated from the diaspora;
(s) the recommendation for the erection of statues and monuments in parts of Namibia in remembrance of genocide victims and veterans of the liberation struggle; and
(t) the recommendation for dignified burial of the remains of the genocide victims and veterans of the liberation struggle.
2. To undertake desktop reviews, interview key informants, individual and group consultations and visit any part of Namibia and relevant institutions in Namibia.
3. To report to the President, as and when the Commission considers fit, any act, by commission or omission, of intimidation of any witness, potential witness or sources of information regarding any matter relevant to the investigations by the Commission.
4. To report to the President on its findings and make relevant recommendations as it may consider necessary in light of the findings.
5. To submit an interim report on the terms of reference within 9 (nine) months of the date of appointment of the Commission and its final report within 3 (three) months of submission of its interim report or such further period as the President, at the request of the Commission, may determine.
President Geingob congratulated commissioners on their appointment and wished the Commission success in the execution of its mandate. The President reminded them that by accepting the responsibility of membership of the Commission, they have made a public commitment to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia in pursuit of a long-lasting solution to this complex and emotive issue and it is expected of the Commissioners to fulfill responsibilities in an accountable and transparent manner.