- The Namibian government will expropriate land to punish those mostly white farm owners who "dumped" their workers by the roadside, Namibian President Sam Nujoma said on Saturday. Speaking at May Day celebrations at Karibib, Mr Nujoma issued an unequivocal declaration that expropriation of farms would not only target underused land but would serve as a punitive measure.
- We will not, and my government will not, tolerate insults in that way, he said after singling out "some white farmers." President Nujoma said a few "minority racist farmers" had not only evicted workers who had lived on the land for decades but had also told them to get "accommodation" from the Government.
He said The Namibian government's policy of national reconciliation was an indication that "we are not racist." However, "some of the whites are behaving as if they came from Holland or Germany with land ... steps will be taken and we can drive them out of this land."
- We have the capacity to do so, President Nujoma said. "My government will expropriate this land as an answer to the insult to my government. We want peace in this country."
The Namibian President was fired up while delivering his speech. As soon as he stepped on to a Lutheran Church pulpit brought to the field, Mr Nujoma spoke off the cuff for at least 60 per cent of the time.
He expressed annoyance with some of the whites who he accused of wanting to continue apartheid. "Some of them, when we took over the government, they took their children to [teach them] in their churches. If they don't want integration, they must pack up and go."
The Namibian government recently presented its land reform scheme, co-financed by the ex-colonial power Germany. Great efforts have been made to avoid Zimbabwean reform conditions even though the dominance of white land owners is comparable to Zimbabwe.
Namibian authorities have strongly advised against illegal occupations of white-owned farms and few incidents have so far been reported. The government however also on several occasions has urged land owners to be more cooperative. Few land owners voluntarily have surrendered lands for redistribution and several are known to have evicted peasant labour from their farms to avoid expropriations.
Namibian miners complain
The Namibian President delivered his May Day statement in the central Namibian town of Karibib, shortly after Bro Joseph K Hengari, Acting General Secretary of the Mineworkers' Union of Namibia (MUN) read the May Day speech of National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) president Risto Kapenda.
Mr Kapenda complained that Namibian diamonds were "leaving the country unprocessed and are controlled by individual families of international diamond dealers, to the detriment of the nation." Mr Kapenda said Namibian diamonds should be sent directly to cutting factories in the country for value addition.
He also criticised the misadministration of parastatals. "With the exception of a few, the majority of these parastatals are mismanaged, become enrichment heavens [sic], corruption and nepotism chambers, channels of well-organised theft of public assets and funds."
Apart from farm labourers, President Nujoma decried the employment conditions of security guards and domestic workers and promised policy changes. He said the Social Security Commission was looking after the welfare of the workers, and announced the increase of the death benefit payout from N$ 2,500 to N$ 3,000 (euro 360), to the applause of the audience.
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