17 September 2018

Namibia: Not All of Us Are Farmers - Venaani

The second national land conference set for early October must pass a resolution to compel local authorities to give free land for housing to the poor, says opposition leader McHenry Venaani.

Venaani said this during the opening of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)'s consultative workshop on the land issue in Windhoek on Saturday.

Venaani said the land conference must focus on the question of urban land reform to address the housing crisis in the country.

He added that the land conference must also compel local authorities to come up with a database to prevent people from acquiring multiple plots at different towns. "Landlessness is beyond farming land. Not all of us want land to farm, but everyone wants land so that they can put up something they can call home. And this country has the capacity to accommodate all of us through one plot policy," he reasoned.

By giving land to poor people, Venaani said, local authorities would be "putting equity in the hands of the poor. And it will change the equation of property prices in our country".

Apart from urban land reform, Venaani said the land conference should also look at the issue of unproductive resettlement farms so that in future, these farms are only given to people who can farm.

He also wants the conference to pass a resolution to enable resettled farmers to borrow from banks using their farms as collateral.

"Resettlement farms in their current forms have become producers of poverty, as opposed to prosperity, because they have zero value. Any form of redress without capital injection is not sustainable. So, let us give farms and share land with those who can farm and access capital.

"Should we really take a populist route of taking farms without compensation, and give them to people without money to farm? Our transformation must also address areas of input and financing to move forward. There must be sustainability," he stressed.

Venaani added that people claiming ancestral land rights should be listened to "because their plight is genuine".

He, however, said any form of land reform for the purposes of restitution and atonement must also consider today's economic reality.

"We must find a dialogue to define equitable and dignified land redistribution for agrarian and urban land reform, meaning we want a fair distribution of land that is dignifying to those who are beneficiaries, and those who are former beneficiaries," he added.

He said his party will not support expropriation of farmland or productive farms without compensation.

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