Accusations fly over ministers being awarded resettlement farms

Joseph Kauandenge

National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) member of parliament Joseph Kauandenge has accused ministers of obtaining resettlement farms after claiming to be previously disadvantaged.

Kauandenge yesterday took issue with the current definition of ‘previously disadvantaged’ under the Affirmative Action Act.

Most of our ministers who are sitting here are formerly disadvantaged as per the term. They are resettled per the term, and they could have acquired those farms commercially through our various banks.

“And they are saying they are previously disadvantaged,” he said in the National Assembly yesterday.

Kauandenge said resettlement farms are up for grabs to those who have collateral and can buy farms through loans, as well as those who cannot.

“We are saying we are also previously disadvantaged. Are we being fair to the process?” he asked.

Minister of gender equality, povderty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka denied Kauandenge’s accusation.

“Let me give this information to be clear: Not everybody who is seated here [executive members] is resettled.

Otniel Podewiltz

“That will send the wrong signal to the nation. I don’t have a farm. So never should you say ‘everybody there is resettled’.

That’s the wrong information you are giving, colleague,” Sioka said.

Her fellow executive members were heard agreeing with her as she spoke.

Kauandenge, however, said if the government were to publish a list of those who are resettled, her colleagues’ names would be there.

“But I am not saying all of the executive members as they are sitting there,” he said.

Popular Democratic Movement member of parliament Vipuakuje Muharukua asked Kauandenge whether the point was to change the meaning of the term ‘previously disadvantaged’ after 34 years.

“Honourable Kauandenge, you speak of who was previously disadvantaged and who is not, while the Constitution speaks of affirmative action.

“The Constitution broadly speaks about affirmative action. By that question, am I to understand that you are speaking to a broader need for this parliament to craft an overall affirmative action act beyond employment matters?”

Kauandenge agreed, adding that the country should do away with terminology that does not consider the reality on the ground.

Vipuakuje Muharukua

“Terminologies are well and good, but equally we must transcend it and make it that our people feel the results and benefits of what we’ve put in place as policies in this country.

“For example, we cannot speak of affirmative action in this country while we have for 34 years of our independence, those who used to have before our independence continue to have,” he said.

The discussion stemmed from the request of minister of labour, industrial relations and employment creation Uutoni Nujoma to reappoint employment equity commissioner Otniel Podewiltz for another year.

Nujoma cited Covid-19, the finalisation of the commission’s 2024 annual report, and amendments to the act as reasons for the extension.

The commissioner was appointed from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2024.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News