Chance for Swapo to put things right

Tomorrow the crème de la crème of Swapo intellectuals would join the party’s leadership in Windhoek to craft the next policy direction of the party and review how policy directives agreed upon four years ago have impacted lives in the country.

Times are hard currently, not only in Namibia but also the world over. With changes in the global geopolitical sphere, each nation needs to keep up and not remain in the dust of fast-moving technology and economic development.

Namibia has not been spared of the challenges affecting the world. How do we, for example, respond to new developmental targets set by the United Nations? How do we handle the mooted exit from the International Criminal Court (ICC)? How do we usher the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) into the fabric of state operations?

Those are just examples of how the deliberations could look like. We are pleased with the principle of NEEEF, the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework through which government intends to address past economic imbalances that favoured whites ahead of blacks.

But perhaps Swapo needs to apply the same vigour and energy to the issue of land distribution – especially from an urban perspective.

The party must remain in charge and direct government decisions, as is tradition. Government must be ordered to put back on track plans for the second national land conference, with emphasis on residential land, especially in towns and cities.

It would be a travesty if a third policy conference is held five years from now to address the issue of land. All the mooted alternatives, such as banning of farmland ownership by foreigners, and engaging the absentee landlords to sell their land to government, must be turned into serious policy directives, lest we give lobby groups room to persist with their threats against government over land.

Swapo must also take a decisive policy position on marine phosphate mining, which had even its own government divided. That way, we cannot have ministers bashing each other publicly as though they were not serving the same government and appointing authority.

The November cabinet meeting that is set to deliberate on phosphate mining, as announced this week by Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa, must take a decision based on what the party’s position on the matter is.

People, in their numbers, voted Swapo into power and expect the party to speak on their behalf. Government was not voted by the masses, technically speaking. The party carries the mandate of the people – and one such mandate if for Swapo to have a clear stance on phosphate mining.

Government would then go with that decision – whether for or against such mining activity.

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