WINDHOEK: If the land reform process is not address as a matter of urgency, Namibia might face a revolution, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said recently.
The Namibian Head of State raised this concern in an interview with Al Jazeera news network on Saturday, saying the the government’s ‘willing buyer-willing seller’ land reform policy is not working as well as it should.
‘I think something has to be done to amend the constitution so that the government is allowed to buy the land for the people. Otherwise, if we don’t do that we will face a revolution. And if the revolution comes, the land will be taken over by the revolutionaries,” he noted.
Pohamba said despite a land conference proposing that those who have plenty of land should sell it to the government, many farm owners are still reluctant to do so.
He said a new solution should be found for the land issue in Namibia.
Pohamba said the idea that the government should confiscate land will not solve the problem either.
“Inequality exists … people are not happy and when you talk about people not being happy what do you expect? They can react. And when they react, then those who have the land will not have the land, people will take over the land,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma told Nampa in May this year that white landowners have been largely responsible for the government’s failure to acquire farms through the ‘willing-buyer, willing-seller’ policy.
Nujoma said the ‘willing-buyer, willing seller’ process is, in itself, a noble and practical approach to land reform, and would have worked well had government received the full co-operation of the majority of commercial farmland owners, who happen to be white.
Even the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb, has admitted publicly that farm acquisitions for land reform purposes was slow.
!Naruseb also announced recently that the N$80 million per year in land tax generated by the new farm valuations would be used to buy and improve land for resettlement.
The outgoing President of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) Ryno van der Merwe, speaking at the union’s annual congress some two weeks ago, said previously disadvantaged Namibians currently own more than nine million hectares of commercial farm land in the country, nearly two-thirds of government’s resettlement target for 2020.
Statistics obtained by the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), which included figures from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, reportedly showed that by the beginning of October, the previously disadvantaged held the title deeds to 9,46 million hectares.
Government wants to have 15 million hectares of commercial farmland in previously disadvantaged persons’ hands by 2020.
“There are those who say that land reform is too slow, but it is not. It is a process,” Van der Merwe said.
The NAU title deed database apparently shows that 25 per cent of all commercial farmland in Namibia belongs to the previously disadvantaged. This includes land in the Rehoboth area.
Of this, nearly 17 per cent belongs to black Namibians who bought farms either by borrowing money from commercial banks, or through the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS). A total of 1 933 farms, covering about 6.3 million hectares, were bought this way.
Resettled Namibians have 383 farms in total, covering about 2.1 million hectares, while the government owns 210 farms, totaling about 1.1 million hectares.
Of the 9 172 farms in the NAU database, a total of 2 598 currently belong to the previously disadvantaged.