FORMER COLONIAL BENEFICIARIES STILL HOLDING ONTO LAND

NAMIBIA: LIBERATION/NBC/5/10/18 SABANews 1

WINDHOEK – Beneficiaries of the SOUTH AFRICAN apartheid system in NAMIBIA are still holding on to vast tracts of land at the expense of the majority population.

Records show about FOUR-THOUSAND, mostly white, commercial farmers own as much as 70 percent of all the arable land in the country – as a result of colonial settlement policies.

Landlessness still rife years after independence (Pic. DW)

The State, commercial farmers, and black farming groups have been trying to implement a peaceful and orderly land reform through government buyouts also with financial support from GERMAN, the former colonial power.

However, the government has only manage to acquire just SEVEN farms in the last 28 years since independence, amid growing desperation for settlements and resettlement by majority poor.

The Land Reform Ministry says the authorities bought all the SEVEN properties, measuring 27-THOUSAND hectares, at a cost of 16-POINT-SIX-MILLION NAMIBIA dollars (ONE-MILLION-134-THOUSAND-510 US dollars) in 2005.

Permanent Secretary PETER AMUTENYA says the Land Reform Ministry has never acquired any more land ever since then.

He says the State had initially identified 26 farms for takeover up until 2005, but only managed to get the SEVEN properties situated in the OMAHEKE, KHOMAS, and OTJOZONDJUPA regions.

Mr AMUTENYA says the absence of land expropriation criteria, inflation of prices by commercial farmers, and legal gaps in the 1995 Agricultural Land Reform Act have been stalling the national resettlement process.

However, the government successfully tables a new law last year and the Lands Ministry is explaining the revised expropriation policy at the ongoing National Land Conference.

The gathering comes amid serious imbalances in the ownership and occupation of land in NAMIBIA, where blacks with access to bank loans occupy 16 percent of it while the State owns a mere FOUR percent on which it has been trying to squeeze the majority.

The NAMIBIA Statistics Agency has carried out an audit that reveals 250 farms are in the hands of foreigners.

Meanwhile, delegates to the SECOND National Land Conference underway in the capital, WINDHOEK, have also identified access to land as a fundamental challenge to housing in urban areas.

They say it is expensive to acquire land, service the property, and develop the necessary infrastructure – since private companies driven by profit carry out the servicing.

The delegates have called on the authorities to reverse the situation in the best interest of the masses, especially by revising the model of Public Private Partnership.

A member of the SHACK DWELLERS’ FEDERATION says the Conference should adopt a policy aimed to increase community-based land delivery processes for low and ultra-low income earners.

EDITH MBANGA says the worsening state of access to shelter and security of tenure will result in severe overcrowding, homelessness, as well as environmental health problems.

She blames such conditions on the lack of critical infrastructure, the affordability gaps, and the inefficient control of development.

The NAMIBIAN woman says the situation is forcing the urban poor and a large segment of low and moderate-income groups to rely on informal shelter, causing increased unplanned settlements in cities./Sabanews/cam

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