WINDHOEK - Predictable and transparent land reform programs that will lead to equitable ownership, productive and efficient usage of land will undoubtedly create a good basis for the country’s economic growth, industrialisation and job creation. This is according to Dr Leake Hangala, former president and Director of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) when he addressed the ongoing Land Conference in the capital this week.
“We strongly support equitable ownership and access to land for all our people. However, for the NCCI, access to and ownership of land, as important as these are, are not an end in themselves, but means to an end. Access and ownership of land will only become meaningful if it constitutes a foundation for wealth creation and economic prosperity for all our people. We are thus delighted to note that this Conference is looking at discussing all broader aspects of land utilisation including urban land for housing, commercial land, upliftment of communal land value, establishment of factories, industries and other infrastructural development. This is critical for business Namibia,” said Hangala while addressing the conference.
Hangala, who commended government for the Land Conference initiative, said the event provides a platform for a constructive national engagement on the land question.
He continued that due to Namibia’s extremely harsh and challenging environment, farming has become exorbitantly expensive and globally uncompetitive in terms of inputs and services.
“As a result, notably so, not all of us want to be farmers. Some of us want to own banks, factories, medical facilities, hotels, etc. For those of us who are not farming, what we want however is that when we go to markets and shops, there are good quality vegetables, meat, milk and all agricultural products at affordable prices. This therefore imposes on those who are farming an obligation to do it in the most productive and efficient manner that will contribute to food security for our country. This requires of us to also introduce modern and up-to date farming methods that maximise yield, protect the environment and lead to agro-processing industries,” said Hangala.
He therefore suggested that the Land Conference proposes programs and agendas that will make land to be used as a means for wealth creation for the state, communities and individuals.
“This can only be done if we can also create collateral value of land especially in communal areas. It is important that the country develops systems and policies regarding title deeds, ownership and land transfer rights. If people are not sure of the status of the land they occupy or are going to occupy, they will not invest in the development of that land but will continue squatting as they believe they are in transit. We must therefore provide ownership systems that give security of tenure,” Hangala stated.
He added that a frustrating aspect for business people and prospective investors is long bureaucratic delays, indecisiveness and non-transparency in terms of access to land, ownership and transfer especially in urban areas. In view of this he urged conference delegates to address eliminating bottlenecks delaying urgently required job creation opportunities.
“As businesses, we are also delighted that today our top lawyers assured this conference and the nation that our land reform program will be done within the confines of the law. This assurance gives certainty and predictability to the investor community. In today’s competitive world, Namibia does not need to send land reform messages that create doubt and uncertainty. We also do not need to throw out the baby with bath water,” he stated.