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Namibia: Calls to redistribute land to boost black ownership

AGRICULTURAL LAND: President Hage Geingob wants to employ more drastic measures to boost black land ownership

THE PRESIDENT of Namibia has proposed a constitutional change to allow the redistribution of land in an effort to boost black ownership.

President Hage Geingob said: “The willing-buyer, willing-seller principle has not delivered results. Careful consideration should be given to expropriation.”

The willing-buyer, willing-seller principle relies on landowners voluntarily selling their land to the government. Due to extortionate prices requested by landowners, it has proved difficult for the government to buy the land and redistribute it to the country’s black population.

In response to the undesired results, officials are considering changing legislation so that the state can take property from its owner for public use or benefit.

“We need to revisit constitutional provisions which allow for the expropriation of land with just compensation, as opposed to fair compensation, and look at foreign ownership of land, especially absentee landowners,” Reuters, reported Geingob said at the Second National Land Conference in Namibia’s capital Windhoek.

On Twitter, Geingob said: “We can’t have inequality, land dispossession and sit with our hands folded. All of us must dialogue with one another; find solutions as Namibians and act with urgency. We should do it the Namibian way, with sensitivity, farsightedness and sustainability in mind.”

Contrary to Geingob’s claims, the country’s prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, said at the end of last month that the scheme had not failed.

“I think what has been a challenge is the pricing that has escalated so much that it has become unaffordable for the government to buy it in quantities that would enable it to redistribute land in a manner that would transform ownership in the country,” The Namibian reported she said.

She also recognised the importance of involving white farmers in the negotiation process.

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