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Namibia Wants To Redress Land Issues, Wants To Follow in SA’s Footsteps

Namibia has a similar problem with South Africa: LAND. The land issue has been a latent thing in Namibia that has never been fully brought out, but the situation may change as Hage Geingob, Namibia’s president, has vowed to follow in South Africa’s footsteps when it comes to land reform.

Land redistribution has become a very hot topic in South Africa, with the ANC-led government advancing plans to effect the redistribution of land from the minority white farmers to the majority blacks. Land redistribution has become a very contested political battleground, and Namibia is keen on doing what the South African government is advancing.

Namibia has large swathes of agricultural land, as well as major diamond and platinum mining industries. During colonization, Namibia was taken up by Germany, where heinous atrocities against humankind were committed, and the natives were dispossessed from their land. Namibia was later taken up by apartheid South Africa, thus perpetuating the inequalities. Namibia got its independence from South Africa in 1990.

“Many Namibians were driven off their productive land,” Geingob said at the opening of a national conference in Windhoek to discuss the new land policy.

“The fundamental issue is the inequality… We also share a burning land issue and a racialized distribution of land resources with South Africa.

“This comes from a common history of colonial dispossession. What we also agree to is that the status quo will not be allowed to continue.” Geingob added that “careful consideration should be given to expropriation”, but urged that the process remain peaceful.

Protestations have already spun out of this. The conference was snubbed by several traditional leaders, civil society organisations and political parties for allegedly having predetermined outcomes. Mistrust has already seeped in and if Namibia is to facilitate this process without any problems, there has to be fairness and transparency.

The issue of land was also a contentious one in Zimbabwe, where it was chaotic and resulted in the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. There have been many lessons to take from the Zimbabwean situation, and when it comes to land, people have to tread on cautious grounds to avoid disastrous consequences.

The issue of land inequality has been a serious one in Southern Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia where there were large concentrations of white settler communities compared to other African regions.

Uneven land distribution remains a symbol of the colonial legacy the SWAPO-led government is under pressure to correct. The majority of black Namibians, considering themselves the rightful owners of the motherland, are still squeezed in communal areas or homelands presently.

In the face of land owners who still refuse to accept and embrace land reforms, there needs to be a strong political will from Namibia’s government in tackling this. Over the years, the land reform ministry has blamed the slow pace of land reform on the availability of farms to buy, and on what it calls the exorbitant prices that the โ€˜willing sellersโ€™ are charging the government.

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