Land and those in the comraderie proximity of the process in which it is dished out has come to be Namibia’s one of many routes to corruption.
In recent years, it has come to light that more than ever that the haves, politically connected and those with the right bank figures are undoubtedly on the receiving end of the fruits of independence while the masses battle it out.
Resettlement farms and land in general [for whatever use] has become one of the most priced and unfairly distributed commodities in the country. As such, it has only been in reach to the those in the right offices or connected individuals.
Just at the stroke of Independence Day, government decided to announce its decision to give American-born and widow of the late struggle icon Andima Toivo ya Toivo, Vicki Erenstein ya Toivo a resettlement farm.
Ya Toivo’s gift came at a time when the country continues to mourn inequality and the unfair distribution of the country’s resources of which land is the bone of contention. The American-born was one of seven recipients of farms that were advertised between 01 December 2017 and 02 January 2018. She receives a 2376 Ha section A of Farm Joyce No. 198 in the Omaheke region.
Critics have blasted the widow of the struggle icon saying the well-off lawyer should not have benefited from the resettlement programme meant for previously disadvantaged Namibian farmers. It is understood that the late ya Toivo owned a commercial farm near Grootfontein, a condition that should make the widow’s application fall short.
The lawyer, who turns 70 next month has accepted the new farm. Erenstein ya Toivo has defended her position in the public saying that her late husband applied for the farm and that they merely wanted to swap farms. This position however falls short in the books of the line ministry.
“There is nothing wrong with whoever is getting a resettlement farm. Our criteria are clear and fair for anyone to apply for a farm,” said Chrispin Matongela spokesperson of the Ministry of Land Reform.
According to the referred criteria, in order to qualify for resettlement, an applicant must be a Namibian citizen; must be at least eighteen (18) years of age; must have no more than 150 Large Stock or 800 Small Stock; and applicant must not own any land, other than for residential purposes.
It is not known how ya Toivo was exempted of the last criteria. “Is she not a Namibian?” queried Matongela.
“The previous farm was owned by the husband and the application of the recently acquired was done by the husband before he died.
You just cannot wish away the other. So she qualifies to get the farm my brother,” Matongela told this journalist.
“She qualifies as a Namibian. Whether the owned land before, that I do not know. Whether the old farm is still in her name, that I also do not know,” added Matongela.
The spokesperson shed some procedural light saying the first process of application happens at regional level.
He highlighted that it is the 14 governors who do the first selection of applicants before sending recommendations to the line ministry.
“So you understand that we get names already filtered by the governors for selection.
After this, it is then when we further look into the illegibility of the applicant to finally get the land [resettlement] that they have applied for.
In the mist of the public outcry on the merits on which ya Toivo acquired land for the previously advantaged and those that have never owned land before, another prominent name hits the list. This time it was MobiPay director Amos Shiyuka, who is also a good government-connect.
The businessman who applied from the Ohangwena region will be the recipient of Portion 1 (Oklahoma) of the Farm Tara No.41 in the Omaheke region with 1950 hectares.
On the same list of 13 beneficiaries is 43-year old Rudolf Nanuseb who is the Valuer General in the line ministry. He applied from Erongo region. Other recipients are Turma Lodges and Safaris, Passions Culinary and Hospitality Institute CC, Esegiel Nguvauva, all from Khomas region amongst others.
All the farming beneficiaries were expected to occupy their farming units within 30 days after receipt of original allotment letters. The public and the masses whose applications meet the obvious criteria have repeatedly questioned the irregularities in the process and have asked if there are at all any systems in place to ensure transparency.
Land activists say those handling the process know very well how to go by without attracting scrutiny.
Activists claim that calls for objections are swept into newspapers at the end of the year when everyone is on holiday.
By the time the announcement becomes known to the public, the time to submit objections have already lapsed.
“What we have is an elitist approach where only the few connected with money will be getting land.
This now becomes hard for the real farmers and those who are previously disadvantaged and those who cannot provide a pay slip to get anything,” said former deputy Minister of Land Reform Bernadus Swartbooi.
Swartbooi highlighted that the discretional powers have become so numerous that parliament surrenders its monitoring capacity of the executive.
The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader believes that this has subsequently given powers to a few in the allocation of the natural resources without question.
“When this person receives three recommendations, he can decide to take only one or reject all three and no one will dare to question the basis of their decision.
What we have is a ‘kakistocracy’; a government run by the least qualified and most stupid who are clue less of how to address the land issue but enrich themselves,” he added.
Swartbooi noted that until the structural legal problem is solved, the country will continue to see the same type of people getting ‘resettled.’
When they have given themselves all the land which they will not use productively, the LPM leader said the country will then see them leasing out portions of their farms.
“It is simple. There is no more resettlement as conceived by the law. What we have is resettlement at the hands of Nujoma [Uutoni], and it is up to him to decide who gets land and how they should look. The rule of the jungle has taken over as there is no more land reform,” said Swartbooi.