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Thursday 24 January 2019
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The land conundrum

The ruling Swapo Party’s government’s track record on land reform has been poor over the past 28 years.
Revelations this week as to how foreigners continue to enjoy endless privileges when it comes to purchasing land in Namibia has shown once more why land reform has failed dismally.
It also shows us that the reforms have not failed because of systemic issues, but rather due to those who have been placed in position to effect change.
The lack of will from our leaders to responsibly manage land affairs in the country has now become a thorn in the flesh.
Screaming headlines of a Russian mogul who bought several farms in the country is expected to widen the gap of mistrust that the ordinary citizens have in government. And this just after the recently concluded land conference with the verdict still pending. The fact that government bought the land with hard-earned taxpayers money just to lease it to the said individual for peanuts makes the situation even more unbearable.
Lands Minister Utoni Nujoma who signed of those land deals must be held accountable for this terrible misdemeanour.
It is unjustifiable for him to surrender those huge pieces of land while hundreds and thousands of Namibians continue to squeeze in informal settlement areas. Is this a sign that the minister does not have the land plights of Namibians at heart?
The fact that a few weeks back he was part of the group of Namibians that converged for a week in Windhoek for the Land Conference makes it even more unacceptable.
The minister must remember that he was appointed to safeguard the resources of this country and to distribute fairly and equitably to all citizens who meet the criteria.
As the burning land question remains unanswered, and the fact that land reform has failed dismally over the years, the last thing we need is leaders who are not placing the interest of Namibia and its people first.
Land reform and expropriation will continue to be buzz words until all Namibians have a piece of land, they can call their own. Hence, politicians who fight against the wave of those pushing the land reform agenda in a fair and responsible manner, must be sent packing.
Land reform has spooked a large number of Namibians – particularly white farmers, who feel that they will lose their land with nothing in return.
And although government has moved to assure the doubters that any land expropriation policies will only be carried out if they make economic sense, revelations of this kind is not doing government any favours.
In reality, as a society, the current actions towards land reform seem to be anti-agrarian reform, an anti-land reform. The richer people continue to own most land while the poor are being left on the side.
Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 28 years after independence.
Since white minority rule ended in 1990, the Swapo government followed a “willing seller, willing buyer” model whereby the government buys private-owned farms for redistribution to blacks has, by government’s own admission.
These are some of the issues that need to be radically addressed in order to solve the burning land question.
It is my hope that government will reverse the decision to lease the land to the Russian national and award it in a more transparent manner.




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