WINDHOEK - Members of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) are affected parties in case of expropriation and thus NAU not only wants to be part of the solution but also over the years interacted closely with the Ministry of Land Reform besides also having been part of the 1991 first national land conference.
NAU has responded to Farmers Forum that wanted to know if they envisage to be represented at the upcoming Second National Land Conference beginning October and what they hope to raise at this conference. It says it has since independence been clear in supporting the land reform process in the country, which encompasses land ownership made up of 32.6 million hectares of communal land (government), and 37.5 million hectares of title deed areas (individual title deed owners). This process started in the 1980s and since 1995, government has always been obtaining the first right of refusal to buy land which comes on the market. Any land owner who wants to sell his/her farm must first offer the farm to government and if the government is not interested in the farm, the owner then obtains the right to sell it in the open market, says NAU.
NAU supports the government’s target to acquire 5 million hectares of land for resettlement, and 10 million hectares of land through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme. “It is however critical to realise that everyone in Namibia should contribute in finding solutions together for this national issue. Land owners cannot solely be held responsible to address this issue,” says NAU. NAU developed a land ownership database of all title deeds in Namibia, and continuously monitors the progress with land reform and change in ownership of title deed farms. Due to a successful and peaceful land reform process in Namibia so far, previously disadvantaged individuals as well as government currently owns 9.2 million hectares (figures updated till end of 2016) of all title deed areas in Namibia. Therefore, more than 60 percent of land in Namibia currently belongs to either the government or previously disadvantaged individuals.
Believing that the ultimate aim of land reform in Namibia should be to grow the economy and employment, as well as the total agricultural output of Namibia, it says land reform can only be regarded as a success if the beneficiaries of land reform are farming in a financially successful manner on a sustainable basis, and are able to further invest in the land to improve productivity. And this is one of the critical issues the conference needs to address. “Further this conference, albeit NAU should develop a programme where beneficiaries of resettlement should receive ownership of the land to use this as collateral to enable them to invest further in their land. Increased investments in mentorship programmes and capacity strengthening are critical to support these new farmers to sustain their financial success.”
NAU says there is an urgent need that the Ministry of Land Reform release the official statistics on the total hectares of land offered by land owners to government since 2008, the total hectares of land bought by the ministry, as well as the total hectares of land for which government issued a waiver to sell in the open market. These figures should be availed to all Namibians transparently on a regional basis. After the release of this information, Namibians will be able to determine whether the Willing Seller–Willing Buyer principle was a successful tool to implement land reform, or not.
Further, the conference should also look at the improvement of the animal health status, and thereby the livestock marketing status of the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) which is of critical importance to ensure economic growth. The NAU fully supports a structured implementation programme to attain this goal under the guidance of the competent authority, the Directorate of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. It acknowledges the existing legal framework under which expropriation of land with fair compensation might take place, as provided for in the Namibian Constitution, Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act and its Regulations.
Finding of solutions to address the urgent need for land in urban areas is furthermore a critical issue to enable all Namibians to own a piece of land they can call home. Transfer of ownership to individuals in urban areas will immensely contribute to wealth creation and a sense of pride for each beneficiary.