4 April 2013

Namibia: Pohamba Says No to Expropriation of Land

PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday rejected the idea of seizing farms, since it would be against the law and the government would end up on the losing side in court.

He said this during question time after his State of the Nation address.

All People's Party (APP) president Ignatius Shixwameni asked about the possibility of land expropriation, saying the land-reform process was taking too long and the money used by the government to buy farms could be used for other developmental needs.

Pohamba said he learned a lesson during his tenure as minister of lands, resettlement and rehabilitation when the government lost a case against a farm owner.

Although he warned last year that Namibia might face a land revolution, Pohamba said yesterday that as president, he has to abide by the Constitution.

He added that it was up to members of parliament to amend the Constitution, if they want land expropriated.

During his address, Pohamba said thousands continue to cry out for land.

"We must respond with a sense of urgency so that the problems related to land reform and distribution do not become perennial. In this regard, I am once again requesting those who own excess land to sell part of it to government for distribution to our landless citizens."

He said the government will this year introduce measures aimed at accelerating land reform and distribution, and secondly assisting resettled farmers.

Pohamba said the government decided to expand some communal areas by purchasing adjacent farmland and incorporating it into identified communal areas.

The president also emphasised various achievements, governance shortcomings and plans to improve living standards through service delivery.

He spoke about free education, long-term strategic plans such as the National Development Plan and the job-creation plan known as the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg).

He again warned farmers to reduce their livestock because of the current drought, adding that the government could not afford to buy fodder for farmers.

Pohamba also said that he is studying the report of the presidential commission of inquiry into the public health sector.

He said he was disturbed by reports of children dying at hospitals and, if the allegations were true, the people responsible should be held accountable.

Pohamba announced that the controversial job evaluation and grading system for civil servants has been completed and will be implemented during this financial year.

Violence against women and children was another topic he touched on, urging the nation to join hands to combat violence and the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

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