Namibia’s land reform process has been frustrated by delays and price negotiations, but is accelerating thanks to better policies and systems in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement.
So said lands minister Alpheus !Naruseb at a recent land workshop organised by the Lutheran Church and the Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU).
While aware of “a desperate call to expedite the process of land reform”, the minister said, “it’s pleasing to note that the rate at which land is being acquired has positively changed. As a ministry, we’ve noticed that offers of land have increased.”
!Naruseb added that the introduction of a Price Negotiating Committee has had positive results. But Oloff Munjanu, NNFU president and organiser of the workshop, said the current land reform process is problematic.
“The point is not how many farms people have, but which of those farms have positively changed their lives,” he pointed out. “The current land reform process is not poor-friendly and the current resettlement criteria are discriminatory because they only favour people who have money, resources and good academic qualifications.”
He added that land prices are very high. “Government should create a regulatory mechanism because the willing buyer, willing seller system is being abused by those who have land, by selling it for higher prices.” In a resolution released after the workshop, the NNFU and the Lutheran Church deemed the land reform process “slow” and “not a priority of the government”.
Meanwhile, Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba has warned traditional leaders to stop messing around with land rights, as chiefs are increasingly getting involved in land disputes in communal areas instead of recommending the right course of action to government.
He reminded leaders that communal land belongs to the state. “If leaders instigate disputes, who will then solve them? What is then the function of such leaders?” daily newspaper The Namibian quoted Pohamba. – Servaas van den Bosch