Friday 18 June 2021
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PDM’s tables its land reform plan

The Popular Democratic Movement(PDM) has released its Position Paper on  Land which it believes is a panacea and necessity to redress the great land injustice in Namibia.
With talks of radical land reform and ancestral land rights dominating headlines and forcing government to act – not to mention catching the attention of the international community– the official opposition party has released its position paper on land in Namibia which contains seven recommendations on how to answer the land question.
And while calls for ancestral land rights were pushed to another level this week when pressure groups waded into the land debate by boycotting on the eve of the 2nd National land Conference this week, the subject has drawn an avalanche of mixed reactions.
PDM is one of the political parties that boycotted the land indaba.
One of the party’s key recommendations is the prioritisation of ancestral land rights in order to “truly appease the historically dispossessed and to right the wrongs of colonialism.”
“A concerted effort shall be made to allow the dispossessed marginalised communities to acquire good arable land wherever such land becomes available,” states the PDM’s 26-page position paper.
PDM also wants legislation amendments to ensure equitable land transfer and economic sustainability.
“In order for ancestral land rights to be prioritized during land resettlement, the PDM proposes that crucial amendments be made to Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995 to prioritize legitimate claimants of ancestral land as the foremost beneficiaries of land reform,” it said.
Another recommendation is the redefining of the national resettlement criteria for agricultural (commercial) resettlement purposes in order to protect the land from State control and to ensure equity in the resettlement process.
According to the paper, the historically-dispossessed communities must get the right to 60% of all land procured for resettlement purposes and that the residual 40% be given to all previously disadvantaged Namibians.
“Thus the score card of resettlement criteria should reflect a higher score for members of the historically dispossessed communities,” the paper states.
“The beneficiaries should be able to farm, have a background in agriculture or other related activities on which the resettlement is based and beneficiaries should be prepared to hold land under leasehold and relinquish their agricultural land rights elsewhere,” recommended the party.
It further said: “If the resettlement is based on animal husbandry the applicant should relocate only such a number of cattle so as not to exceed the carrying capacity of the parcel.”
“Resettled persons should be prepared to support cost-recovery measures whenever they are introduced. Resettled persons should adhere to all agreements and failure to farm productively can result in the cancellation of the leasehold agreement,” outlined the paper.
Contrary to President Hage Geingob’s transparency rhetoric, government is dragging its feet when it comes to publicly releasing the resettlement list with no clarity forthcoming regarding the underlying factors that have prompted government to keep the list concealed.
So far it only released the names of beneficiaries after 2010, PDM has now recommended that there is need for the renegotiation of all resettlements since 1991.
“Recent reports of affluent Namibians and their families benefiting from resettlement are of great concern. An immediate audit and review must be carried out of all land deals that the SWAPO government has executed since 1991.
The results of the audit must be made available to the public. Where public consultations determine that there are land deals that did not benefit the historically displaced or previously disadvantaged, these deals must be renegotiated to rectify the situation and renegotiation must take place to determine the legitimacy of the land deals that have taken place under SWAPO rule, to date,” asserted the party.
It also want the beneficiation process to be decentralised like other government services.
“Regional land reform and resettlement planning are still undertaken mostly by central government, which leads to a breakdown in communication or in the flow of information required for proper planning. Centralised decision–making is also a breeding ground for the abuse of power,” cautioned the party.
According to the position paper, equitability within the land reform programme can only be sustained if regional structures become more involved in making decisions about land reform and what the most effective models would be to resettle the historically dispossessed in their relevant regions.
“The PDM recommends that decision-making over beneficiation be decentralized to regional councils and Traditional Authorities. Traditional Authorities must be given more power to select and process applications of ancestral land claims during the resettlement process. Partnerships between Government, the private sector and civil society at regional level could effectively ensure their co-responsibility and accountability for their regional resettlement programmes, and directly empower the beneficiaries,” the party opined.
In order to attain equitable land reform, the PDM is pushing for the removal of the Veterinary Cordon Fence.
“As a measure to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, the PDM therefore recommends that the VCF be systematically removed once a “buffer zone” has been established on Namibia’s northern border with Angola to prevent livestock from Angola moving freely into Namibia and therefore the spread of communicable diseases like foot-and-mouth disease,” the party recommended.
The development of incubation farms is another key recommendation set forth by PDM, saying:  “There is a need to buy some farms to serve as testing and improving farms for resettlement farmers to be monitored for six years before graduating as fully fledged commercial farmers.”
Currently less than 10% of the National Budget is allocated to land resettlement, PDM wants the allocation be increased to 18% in order to address severe shortages in financing for both acquiring land for resettlement as well as strengthening weak administration and post-resettlement support.
PDM also wants the creation of a tribunal that will deal with willing buyer/willing seller negotiations to determine a fair valuation of land to avoid exorbitant over-pricing of farm land. In order to make land available for communal farmers to use as collateral, the party also suggested that the 99 year lease be reduced to 30 years in all cases, after which the farmer may get permanent tenure over the piece of land in question.

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