Fears over slow pace

Windhoek – Namibian Deputy Prime Minister, Marco Hausiku, has warned that the slow pace of land reform in Namibia could “cause problems for the country” as frustrations continue to show on the faces of the majority of landless Namibians.  Delivering a keynote address during a national consultative workshop on Namibia’s new Land Bill, Hausiku said the slow pace of land reform, especially land distribution to previously disadvantage Namibians was worrisome.   The national workshop follows on the heels of regional workshops concluded in regions across the country, as government steps up efforts in its land reform process. The three-day workshop, started in Windhoek on Wednesday.    Drawing similarities between Namibian, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Hausiku said growing frustrations mounted by the slow pace at which land redistribution is progressing in Namibia, could replicate in the country.  He said it was such frustrations that spurred landless people in Zimbabwe to take matters in their own hands to acquire land, as they felt betrayed by the system.  “What happened in Zimbabwe is not unique to that country only, and could replicate itself anywhere else in the world,” he said.  Hausiku, however admitted that some progress in the land reform process has been made since independence, adding that land reform has many social, political and historical factors and could not be resolved overnight.  “Land reform is not just a resolution of the question of land tenure, but should be viewed and carried out as a holistic programme that recognises the role of land, agriculture and industry in national economic development,” said Hausiku.  The Deputy PM called for the development of more pragmatic policies to increase the efficiency of land use, in order to ensure a meaningful contribution of land-based resources and contribute to the country’s attainment of its long-term development goal – Vision 2030.  Namibia intends to have five million hectares of commercial agricultural land  redistributed through the National Resettlement Programme, and the facilitation of the acquisition of  10 million hectares  by the previously disadvantaged Namibians through the Affirmative Action Programme by 2020. The Government  is also targeting the development and distribution of five million hectares of non-freehold land in communal areas by the same year.  Namibia inherited a highly skewed land distribution policy at independence in 1990, with the commercial white farmers occupying a large portion of the country’s most arable land. The unequal distribution of land is widely seen as the main cause of rural poverty and economic inequality.

July 2010
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