6 February 2013

Namibia: Lands Says Its Focus to Be Implementation

THE Ministry of Lands and Resettlement has vowed to be more implementation oriented this year to fast-track Namibia's land reform process and to involve communities to shape land policies that affect them.

Deputy Minister Theo Diergaardt yesterday told staff at the ministry that the Swapo Party resolutions taken at its policy conference last year would be communicated to the staff, suggesting that the party plans would impact greatly on the direction and targets set by the ministry.

The Swapo land recommendations made at the policy conference, alongside other public documents like the fourth National Development Plan and the 1991 land conference recommendations, Diergaardt said, "should guide and hold each and every one of us accountable".

Last year, the ministry bought 14 farms totalling more than 80 262 hectares at more than N$80 million for land reform purposes.

Eighteen families were resettled - three families in Karas and 15 families in the Kunene Region - but Diergaardt said this falls short of the number of families in need of famland.

Some reasons advanced for the slow pace of land reform are the number of farms made available by formerly advantaged commercial farmers and the prohibitively expensive prices for farm land. The ministry has thus carried out a study on agricultural land prices in Namibia which looked at historic trends in the commercial farming property market and discussed the relationship between current macro-economic data, land legislation, policies and other factors that affect the cost of farms.

Diergaardt said this study will be used as a basis to consider policy options to deal with the price of farmland, one of which was the valuation of land, which has now been delayed with the withdrawal of the provisional valuation roll while emerging legal hiccups are being ironed out.

Also high on the ministerial agenda for this year, he said, would be the mobilisation of cross-ministerial efforts for post-settlement support, which includes the rehabilitation of infrastructure on farms.

Last year, the ministry spent close to N$4,5 million on the rehabilitation and development of infrastructure on 34 resettlement farms - seven in Omaheke and 27 in Otjozondjupa.

The registration of land rights in communal areas is ongoing, and will extend into 2014.

So far, 80 185 communal land rights have been verified and mapped in 11 regions. Ten resettlement farms were inspected, surveyed and issued with 99-year lease agreements during last year.

In 2012, the ministry has similarly revised the topographic datasets for Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, and parts of Kunene and Otjozondjupa.

Those of Omaheke, Khomas, Erongo, and parts of Otjozondjupa and Hardap are at an advanced stage.

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