WINDHOEK - To allay public discontent over the land resettlement programme the government will develop and maintain a database containing names of beneficiaries to avoid multiple land ownership within one region and between different regions at the expense of landless Namibians.
This follows months of public concern including by opposition parties and civil society groups who have criticised the resettlement programme and demanded the release of the names of beneficiaries.
Civil society organisations vowed not to attend the 2nd National Land Conference if government failed to release relevant documents, including the controversial master list of resettlement beneficiaries.
It’s against this background, under resolution 15 of the just-ended land conference, that the government will fill the existing gaps by developing and maintaining a database containing names of beneficiaries to ensure fairness and accountability.
Prior to the land conference, a leaked list of names of beneficiaries went viral on social media.
Government officials, among them former ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and directors, dominate the list of resettled farmers, according to the list of beneficiaries.
At the time, official opposition party Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani, during a meeting with the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) farmers, had criticised the resettlement programme, saying it was not fair because the list of beneficiaries was dominated by “people who can farm commercially”.
Venaani called for the resettlement programme to be relooked to be more transparent and inclusive.
“We are aware that there are judges on that list, people who earn more than N$1,7 million a year, there are directors and permanent secretaries, and even deputy ministers. Now if we are giving farms to people who can afford them, how will the young people enter the market?” he asked.
There has been criticism of the resettlement programme that resettled farmers acquiring farming units just let them stand idle.
The Ministry of Land Reform has also expressed concern that some people who got farms through the government’s resettlement programme are too old to make a productive impact and were simply looking for retirement villages by applying for resettlement farms.
“Not that old people cannot play a significant role in the economy of our country, but the truth is that some people are looking for retirement villages and prestige, which is not the intention of the programme. Resettlement is there to contribute to employment creation and economic GDP augmentation,” spokesperson of the Ministry of Land Reform Chrispin Matongela had told New Era earlier.
The list of resettlement programme beneficiaries, mainly compiled from advertisements placed in various media between 2011 and January 2018, shows that several top government officials, including deputy ministers, permanent secretaries, and directors have been resettled across the country on 99-year leaseholds.
The land conference also adopted the resolution that non-residents when applying for land should respect and uphold the customs and traditions of the local traditional community of the area.
Equally, land administration should be done procedurally through the traditional authorities.
Further, it was resolved that legislation should make provision for consulting farmers in the area before allocating land to other people.