Election Manifesto: Namibia’s Swapo sets land reform strategy

 

Windhoek – The Namibian government will continue to review and consolidate the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995 and the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002 into a single land legislation that will cover both the communal and commercial land tenure systems, President Hifikepunye Pohamba has said.

President Pohamba revealed this during the launch of the ruling Swapo Party election manifesto on September 6.

While addressing the party supporters, President Pohamba said the government has committed itself to acquiring freehold agricultural land on a willing buyer-willing seller basis with market-related compensation.

The Swapo leader noted that his party’s manifesto serves as a social contract between the organisation and the Namibian people “whereby the party assures to lead people to peace, stability and prosperity”.

Swapo promised in its manifesto that the government will acquire 417 000 hectares of land each year for the next six years until 2020 for it to reach the 2.5 million hectares of land under the national resettlement programme.

“We will continue to encourage the willing buyer-willing seller principle while at the same time continuously reviewing the same.

“Apart from that we will develop integrated land use plans where the resources, infrastructure and possibilities are established and captured.

“The Integrated Regional Land Use Plans allow the regions to map and determine the use of the natural resource and investment prospects,” the manifesto reads.

Addressing the question on what has been achieved so far in terms of land distribution, the party pointed out that the government has so far established of Communal Land Boards in 12 of the 14 regions where there is communal land.

These statutory bodies comprise numerous stakeholders, who perform functions as prescribed by the Communal Land Reform Act.

To date, 128 142 customary land rights were verified and mapped, while about 16 000 hectares of land is now under development focusing mainly on tenure security and development of infrastructure.

Regarding acquisition and distribution of freehold land, the party revealed its intention to acquire 15 million hectares of farmland by 2020. This target is split into two – five million hectares to be acquired under the National Resettlement Programme (NRP) and the remaining 10 million hectares to be acquired under the Affirmative Action Programme implemented by Agribank.

Through its five-year plan of action, for the past 24 years, Namibia under Swapo administration acquired and redistributed almost 2.5 million hectares of commercial agricultural land to about 5 007 formally disadvantaged Namibians (43 percent female and 57 percent male) and that further 2.5 million hectares will be acquired by the year 2020.

In order to acquire the remaining 2.5 million hectares of land under the National Resettlement Programme (NRP), the government will procure at least 417 000 hectares of land each year for the next six years until 2020, the party promised.

It further promised to acquire freehold agricultural land on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, with market-related compensation.

So far part of the R50 million appropriated annually for land acquisition has also been used to develop and rehabilitate farm infrastructure on resettlement farms, the party revealed.

Government has also amended the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, Act 6 1995 to provide for the smooth implementation of land tax.

The legislative amendments recognise the need to empower new entrants into the commercial agricultural sector by partially exempting previously disadvantaged persons from paying land tax.

Land tax on commercial agricultural land has, since its inception in 2002, generated R258.6 million, which has been channelled towards land acquisition and development.

Meanwhile, President Pohamba said the Swapo Party remains fully committed to improving the quality of life of all Namibians.

“We are aware that in order to effectively alleviate poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment, we must pursue socio-economic development policies and programmes that are people-centred and inclusive.

“We undertake to continue implementing our short-, medium- and long-term development plans and programmes for the benefit of all our people,” he said.

September 2014
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