Namibia: Redress Past Injustices When Tackling Land Issue

Land reform minister Calle Schlettwein has urged regional governors to use land as a form of correcting past injustices while creating economic opportunities for disadvantaged Namibians to address inequality.

"These matters are sensitive, demanding and emotive; hence, our resolve to equip all Regional Resettlement Committees with the necessary land governance policy framework to manage the issues in a fair and transparent manner," said Schlettwein, who was addressing an induction and training workshop for the newly-appointed chairpersons of resettlement committees that consist of all regional governors at Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa region yesterday.

The objective of the workshop is to equip governors with all the necessary skills and knowledge on the mandates, functions and operations of the regional resettlement committees, enabling them to perform their duties and responsibilities most effectively and efficiently.

Of Namibia's total labour force, 15.6% are working in agriculture and about 70% of the population is directly dependent on the agricultural sector.

Schlettwein said in 2018, the country held a successful second land conference that produced a comprehensive set of resolutions.

"One of the important steps is to put these resolutions in a legal framework. The outcome will be a land bill, which combines the current commercial and communal land reform acts and includes provisions giving effect to the relevant resolutions of the second land conference," Schlettwein said.

However, he said, due to Namibia's continued skewed land ownership structure, which has created and perpetuated socio-economic inequalities among the country's citizens, the legitimate expectation is for government to deliver a land reform that is fair, justified, economically viable, transparent and sustainable.

"Let us intensify our fight against poverty and corruption by addressing structural inequality to ultimately ensure a prosperous Namibia," Schlettwein stresses.

He said as a ministry, they are aware of the acute demand for land under the Land Reform Programme.

"And whereas the supply of such land remains low, let us, therefore, ensure that those most vulnerable in communities are not left out of the programme," he said.

"In addressing these inequalities, in an effort to improve access to land by the vulnerable groups and all Namibians, I further urge you to be accountable, transparent and work within the ambit of the law."

Equally, Schlettwein told regional governors that as chairpersons of the RRC, they are part of the process in ensuring that the land that is allocated is utilised most productively to enable the beneficiaries in contributing to household food security and ultimately the growth of the economy.

Schlettwein said the ministry is currently interrogating various initiatives with a view of coming up with a comprehensive strategy to address productivity challenges on most resettled farms.

"As RRC, you are in a strategic position to form communication linkages between the grassroots communities and central government. This gives you an opportunity to priorities urgent and specific land matters from constituencies and regions for immediate policy response," he said.

- ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na

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