WINDHOEK - Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, yesterday reluctantly capitulated to pressure by handing over the much-anticipated list of beneficiaries of the land resettlement programme to the Ombudsman, avoiding a showdown that could have seen him being dragged to court.
The Ministry of Land Reform has in the past dilly-dallied over the release of the master list of beneficiaries on grounds the list may cause harassment to the resettled farmers. Ombudsman John Walters yesterday confirmed to New Era that he has received the much-awaited list of beneficiaries of the land resettlement programme, saying that although it is not what he entirely expected he is happy with what he got.
“Yes, I received the resettlement list from the Land Reform Ministry today [Wednesday], I expected a master list but what I got is bit and pieces of the list, but I am happy,” said Walters, adding that he has now instructed his staff to compile one list out of what he got.
Yesterday’s handing over of the list follows threats by Ombudsman Walters that if he does not receive the list he will take the ministry to court, possibly by the end of this month.
Walters’ request of the list follows a demand by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement a public interest pressure group led by Job Amupanda, a fearless activist with many followers.
In a letter to the Ombudsman in March, AR requested Walters to investigate how Vicky ya Toivo, wife of late liberation struggle hero Andimba Toivo ya Toivo was allocated a resettlement farm.
Vicky was among seven resettlement beneficiaries allocated resettlement farms in March this year, although her family had previously benefitted from the same scheme.
She was allocated a 2,376-hectares farm in the Omaheke, barely two weeks after the farms were advertised in local newspapers for allocation, this is despite many resettlement beneficiaries who have applied numerous times have been turned down without any reasons being advanced by the ministry for its rejection.
This raised eyebrows, with critics, specifically AR, questioning why Vicky, who by casual definition is not previously disadvantaged as is a requirement, was allocated a resettlement farm. There are also perceptions that the political elite and the politically connected have ‘captured” the resettlement exercise.
The ministry has over the years been reluctant to release the master resettlement list, amidst accusations and suspicions by land activists last year, that since the beginning of the resettlement programme, politically connected individuals have been favoured for resettlement.