'Failed, frustrated politicians want to take advantage of land issue,' says Namibian leader Geingob

Namibian President Hage Geingob has reportedly warned politicians in the southern African country to guard against using the land issue for political gains.

According to The Namibian newspaper, Geingob said this during the opening of the Swapo central committee meeting over the weekend.

The paper quoted sources as saying that Geingob also spoke against "ancestral land claims, and the proposal to expropriate land without compensation".

Geingob said he did not support ancestral land claims, adding that "failed and frustrated politicians" wanted to take advantage of the emotive topic.

This came as reports on Monday said that the Namibian leader had urged citizens to take part in the debate over mooted land reforms, including the expropriation of land, in order to avoid chaos.

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The southern African country was set to hold a "national land conference" from October 1-5, for discussion of policies that will accelerate the land reform programme.

"I believe that we should have difficult conversations, as Namibians, with the aim of finding peaceful and sustainable solutions to the challenges of inequality, landlessness and outstanding pains of genocide," AFP quoted Geingob as saying.

"If we don't correct the wrongs of the past through appropriate policies and actions, our peace will not be sustainable," the president warned.

The debate came as neighbouring South Africa was considering plans to allow for expropriating farms without compensating the owners, largely the white minority which possess 72% of farms.

Geingob, who was the country's first prime minister, was one of the drafters of the Namibian constitution which protected property rights of people who owned land prior to independence.

He is however facing increasing pressure to return ancestral lands to the rightful owners.