12 October 2018

Namibia: Geingob Sets Land Reform Tone

Photo: The Namibian
President Hage Geingob.

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob on Wednesday set the tone on the urgency to implement decisions taken at the second national land conference and, at the same time, gave directives on how he would like to see the process being done leading to the implementation of some of them.

Among others, Geingob said hosting a conference successfully was not a reason to celebrate, but that the real work began on Friday evening when the gathering was concluded.

Between Friday and Wednesday, he said, members of Cabinet should already have started to prepare sectoral plans and responses in line with the resolutions, and that he does not want "to hear explanations as to why this or that cannot be done. I don't want to hear about money and bureaucratic delays", as not every problem is dependent on financial resources.

Here are excerpts on key issues tackled by Geingob at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.

On Urban Land:

The situation in informal settlements constitutes a humanitarian crisis, and must be considered an emergency. An estimated close to 900 000 Namibians live in informal settlements. Cabinet and the line minister should commence the process of drafting an urbanisation and spatial development policy to deal with the macro-level questions. The Squatters Proclamation Act must be revised to make it more responsive. A proper audit must be done on the mass housing programme.

Flexible schemes must be explored that would allow "rent to own", while the City of Windhoek must accelerate the delivery of the student village that has been in the pipeline as a matter of priority.

On Resettlement, Communal Land, Ancestral Land and Restitution:

The dwelling place of chief Hosea Kutako at Aminuis will be declared a national heritage site, renovated and a shrine erected. The ministry of land reform must identify a farm or two adjacent to Aminuis to lessen pressure for land in the Aminuis communal area. A task team should be set up to identify a few historic shrines from communities who were dispossessed for the construction of memorial sites.

A commission will be appointed to look into the matter of ancestral land and restitution. It will comprise a retired judge or eminent person, supported by five experts in relevant fields, with secretarial support from the Law Reform and Development Commission, while the presidency will head the commission. The attorney general, in consultation with the minister in the presidency, must come up with draft terms of reference, and proposed candidates to be appointed as commissioners. This must be submitted to the president by 16 October 2018.

Willing-Buyer,

Willing-Seller:

Government-owned land must become more productive. The willing-buyer willing-seller concept is now in suspension. The ministries of land reform and agriculture are tasked to carry out an urgent assessment of the status of resettlement farms, and what will be required to improve productivity. The full resettlement list should be completed and shared with the Namibian public.

Northern Communal Farmers:

The ministry of agriculture must accelerate the completion and renovation of abattoirs, as well as the construction of additional abattoirs in places such as Eenhana, Rundu, and Katima Mulilo. Finance must accelerate directives which will allow farmers north of the cordon fence to provide beef and crops for consumption in government-owned entities north of the red line. Those amendments should take effect before the end of this year.

Exit from existing contracts that were entered into based on criteria that effectively excluded northern communal farmers from participating in the procurement of beef for consumption by government-owned entities.

On Illegal Fencing:

The Ministry of Safety and Security should enforce laws prohibiting illegal fencing in communal areas. A sensitisation and consultation process should start before law-enforcement agencies move swiftly to enforce the law without fear or favour. By the end of this month, all illegal fences should be identified, and notice given to those committing the illegal act of fencing off areas to remove their fences within a reasonable time frame.

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