16 November 2012

Namibia: Resettled Farmers Disappoint


The resettlement of almost 5 000 landless households on 311 farms to remedy colonial injustices that uprooted thousands, shows a compassionate and committed leadership.

Over the past 22 years our government has selflessly spent N$645 million from its coffers to remedy a problem of monumental proportions that in the first place was created by a colonial, racist regime.

The present land resettlement exercise that has given back land to Namibians across the board shows how serious our government is to ensure it empowers all its citizens, irrespective of ethnicity and area of origin.

Land reform remains a hot political and economic issue that invokes nostalgic memories that are personal rather than material to many Namibians.

At independence 22 years ago, our visionary leaders in their collective wisdom and foresight embarked on the resettlement exercise primarily to improve the lives of Namibians previously dispossessed by ruthless colonialists, who made our citizens second-class citizens in our motherland.

The displacement of Namibians from their ancestral land and the segregation triggered the liberation struggle that was fought both on the diplomatic and military fronts,, gradually leading to independence.

But despite the selfless efforts of government to redress the injustices of the past, some of the resettled farmers, who were so fortunate to have been selected first from the thousands of other fellow landless Namibians still standing in the queue, have not played their part and an alarming number of the resettlement farms are in a sorry state.

Some of the resettlement farms are so dilapidated they bear little semblance to the state in which they were handed over because the beneficiaries are unable to plant veggies or even maize for own use.

Some of the farming units have been put to productive use, while some farmers have let their farms lie fallow and have engaged in all manner of poaching and chopping down trees for sale.

It is disheartening that some have killed the proverbial goose that would have laid the golden egg, intended to extract them from grinding poverty.

The recent visit by the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alfeus !Naruseb to resettlement farms in Erongo, Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions revealed a shocking picture concerning the plunder on the farms ironically involving some of these beneficiaries.

Most worrying is that some of the failed resettled farmers are reportedly engaged in livestock theft, targeting the livestock of their contemporaries who are getting by and at least trying to make a living from these farms.

The stock theft - particularly of goats - involving groups of marauding unemployed youth loitering on the resettlement farms is so rife that some of the farmers have stopped livestock farming because of the losses.

In as much as we understand there is a need for post-resettlement government assistance, we feel it should be incumbent on the resettled farmers to ensure their farms become a success, as it takes two to tango.

Some of the concerns raised to the minister, that boreholes at some of the farms need to be rehabilitated, hold water and we sympathise with the resettled farmers but they should be proactive to ensure success.

Farming, like other business ventures, has unique challenges that should be addressed pragmatically.

It is the patriotic duty of the resettled farmers to ensure they become a success story and they should get rid of the omnipresent culture of entitlement.

They should not only produce maize, beef, pork, mutton, chicken for own consumption, but they should produce to boost our food security.

They should ensure the hundreds of millions of dollars invested to buy them farmland reap dividends in the form of food production and job creation.

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