5 February 2013

Namibia: Government Purchases More Resettlement Farms

Windhoek — During the 2012/2013 financial year, the government managed to acquire 14 farms, at a cost of nearly N$81 million.

Eighteen families were resettled on 80 262 hectares of land - three families in the Karas Region and fifteen in the Kunene Region.

"The number falls short in comparison to the number of households that require land for agricultural purposes and for settlement," the Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Theo Diergaardt, said during the ministry's annual staff address.

Government's target is to redistribute 15 million hectares by 2020, and 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 N$100 million through fiscus and its own sources, such as land tax. In addition, high land prices in the Namibian market are another hurdle for the ministry.

"Efforts to motivate for additional funding under the Land Reform Programme, especially for land purchases, have been made and we will keep flagging the issue at appropriate forums," the deputy minister said.

With regard to post-settlement support, the minister highlighted the need to come up with a systematic plan to address post-settlement issues.

Last year, the ministry spent N$4.33 million on rehabilitation and development of infrastructure.

The amount catered for the rehabilitation and development of 34 farms, seven in Omaheke Region and 27 in the Otjozundjupa Region.

"I am positive that with continued financial support, extension services, training and related post-settlement support, farmers will make a positive impact on the agricultural sector," Diergaardt maintained.

To date, a total of 80 185 land rights had been verified and mapped in eleven regions by December 2012 in communal areas, and the process is still ongoing.

With regard to the registration of urban and commercial land, a total of 31 222 land rights were handled and registered.

It is reported that the Deeds Registry, although experiencing financial challenges managed to collect N$5.7 million through property registration.

The Deeds Registry had also been computerised, the deputy minister reported. The ministry is also in the process of revising and strengthening various policies such as expropriation criteria, guidelines on the removal of illegal fences in communal areas, the National Resettlement Policy and the draft Social Welfare Resettlement criteria.

Other pieces of legislation such as the Flexible Land Tenure Act, Sectional Titles Act and the Valuations Professional Act were passed.

Plans are at an advanced stage for the implementation of the Property Valuers Professional Act. However, progress on the amendment of the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act and the Communal Land Reform Act had reportedly failed to yield results.

Diergaardt appealed to management to monitor the progress of all proposed amendments to the two acts and related pieces of legislation that have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for processing. "It is our shared vision and understanding that the Land Bill and the proposed amendments will contribute to an effective land reform programme in our country," the deputy minister was of the opinion.

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