Namibia to follow Zimbabwe land reform example?

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Namibian government could take the Zimbabwean route in distributing land to its black population after expressing frustration over the slow pace of land reform.

With revelations of unspecified methods to hasten land acquisition being explored, it is believed the government needs 69 million hectares (170 million acres) to resettle 243,000 landless Namibians.

White farmers who still own vast tracts of land, according to the government are demanding huge sums of money from the Government, which hampers the process of land acquisition. So new methods are being looked into, says Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Henock ya Kasita.

Henock ya Kasita is today quoted saying the willing buyer, willing seller policy introduced by his Government in 1994, is not yielding the desired outputs as was envisaged.

“The slow pace at which land has been acquired, especially during the financial year 2009/2010 has reached a critical point. This clearly demonstrates that the willing seller, willing buyer concept does not yield desired outputs,” said Ya Kasita.

The government says it hopes to parcel out land close to 240 000 landless black Namibians. The scheme is mainly designed to buy land from white Namibians and foreign landowners and redistribute it to about 240 000 landless black Namibians.

The process is being slowed down by arbitrarily inflated land prices and the “unavailability of productive land”, said the deputy minister.

Government says it cannot afford to pay the prices charged by farmers as most of the farms offered are of low quality, mostly located in non-productive areas while some are without infrastructure such as boreholes, reports say.

Two-thirds of Namibia’s population lives on communal land, most of them eking out a living as subsistence farmers. The communal land comprises about two-fifths of Namibia’s fertile land, with commercial farms occupying as much space.

Reports say The Namibian Agricultural Union, which represents about 4,000 white commercial farmers, estimates that 70 percent of commercial farms are owned by whites. About 50,000 of Namibia’s population of 1.7 million are white.

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