The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement has finally heeded the recommendation to establish a forum on land reform as contained in the report of the Permanent Technical Team (PTT) made several years ago.
The PTT was set up in 2003, to review the existing legal and policy framework for land reform and to come up with several recommendations, one of which was to set up a Negotiated Land Reform Forum (NLRF), which was to be a facilitative mechanism through which more land could be made available.
The ministry has now established the National Land Reform Forum (NLRF) and not the Negotiated Land Reform Forum, as suggested by the PTT.
According to the ministry, it has decided to omit the word "negotiated" in order to avoid any misrepresentation about its purpose and objectives.
The main objective for the creation of the forum is to embark on a structured approach to land reform and to accelerate the land reform process, which is currently viewed as slow.
One of the criticisms leveled against the land reform programme is the absence of a coherent approach, bringing all relevant stakeholders together to discuss the various options and aspects of land reform in a frank manner.
The Director of Land Reform and Resettlement, Knox Imbuwa said through the NLRF, non-state actors and members of civil society will be invited to discuss how they can contribute to the land reform programme.
"Expected outcomes of the NLRF are improved buy-in from stakeholders; lessened uncertainty about land reform; setting of clear targets; possible identification of clusters of farms being offered, and ultimately improvement in investor confidence over the longterm," Imbuwa said at the inception meeting.
The forum is further intended as part of the public-private dialogue where a broad range of stakeholders can express their own interests with a view to reaching a consensus acceptable to everyone.
"The overall objective of the forum is to stimulate dialogue that can contribute to peace and economic, social and political stability in the country through a sustainable land reform process," Imbuwa added.
The Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb, at the meeting appealed to the members to give their utmost best to the forum.
"It shouldn't be the usual initiatives that government is running, given the experience so far, where citizens and everybody is talking about the willing-buyer-willing-seller approach," !Naruseb said.
According to !Naruseb, everybody is aware of the challenges that the land reform programme encounters and it depends on every Namibian to shape the destiny of the country's land reform process.
"We have the opportunity as a nation through forums like this to be the masters of our destiny. Let us still hold the steering wheel to keep direction," the minister appealed to the new members.
The forum, which still has to elect a chairperson, vice-chairperson and establish a secretariat will discuss issues such as farm prices, the slow pace of the land reform programme and beneficiary performance, amongst others.
About 29 members were selected to serve on the forum, ranging from organisations such as Women's Action for Development (WAD), Agribank, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Bank of Namibia, Council of Churches, European Union, GIZ, Meatco, Meat Board, Karakul Board, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Agronomic Board, Namibia Agricultural Union, Namibia Nature Foundation, Namibia Women's Association, Namibia National Farmers Union, National Planning Commission (NPC), Polytechnic of Namibia, UNDP, Legal Assistance Centre, and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia.