28 January 2013

Namibia: Exorbitant Farmland Ruffles Feathers

Windhoek — The Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Narsueb, has appealed to all players in Namibia's land reform process to reach out to one another and make the process work, if possible adverse future consequences are to be avoided.

"We must be able to reach out to one another. The perception or mindset out there is that the farmers are only too keen to receive millions for their land but we raise hell when that million is to be taxed," the minister said during a media briefing dealing with the cancellation of the 2012 Provisional Valuation Roll (PVR).

The current roll was cancelled due to a misalignment in the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system, used to determine land value as well as following an outcry from commercial farmers against the high land tax valuations.

"So, make my task, as sector head of land administration in this country, easier. Let us reach out to one another, let us develop a common approach in terms of understanding what we are expected to do as a nation in order to shape a common destiny. That would be my appeal,"!Naruseb appealed to farmers.

According to the land custodian, Namibia is still able to steer the direction of its land reform.

"Don't let third forces in .... where probably we would be unable to control or dictate our land destiny that would not be for the mutual benefit of us all. And we don't have to hunt around for examples around the world. Not jusin Africa but locally. Let us be the masters of our destiny," the minister cautioned.

!Naruseb said he did not want to point fingers to any specific groups or people but appealed to all players in the land sector to start with self-retrospection.

"Now the high land prices that gets paid, who owns the land and who is ready to dispose of land? Who gets the benefit of the high land prices?

"Is it important that we move forward or important that we recognise the signs of not so good things that could come our way. Whether we are of Caucasian or Bantu descent, we must ask ourselves whether we are serious about land reform," he stated.

With regard to repeated calls for another land conference, !Naruseb said the Namibian leadership is taking note of the issue.

"It is foremost in our minds. It's in the minds of the leadership in the country. We are observing the way things are going, there most likely would come a time when we will sit around a table and brainstorm on the subject matter to be able to take an informed decision with regard to the way we want to go," the minister said.

Government's target is to redistribute 15 million hectares by 2020.

To execute that, the lands ministry needs to acquire land at the rate of 280 000 ha per annum at an annual price of N$370 million.

However, it is currently only able to get less than 100 million through fiscus and its own sources, such as land tax.

"If I would have my way, I would have wanted the amounts that I have just cited, but I also appreciate that there are other competing needs," !Naruseb said.

In the meantime, land prices are skyrocketing by the day.

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