Namibia
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243 foreign-owned farms identified for expropriation with compensation

The Namibian government has identified 243 farms to be expropriated with compensation, most of them owned by Germans and South Africans.

In a preliminary report on the progress of the second land conference released last week, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform had identified 243 farms, covering 1,2 million hectares (ha) owned by foreign nationals as of September 2018.

Germans own 124 of the farms earmarked for expropriation, totalling about 589 092ha, while South African nationals own the second highest number of farms at 81, totalling 350 330ha. Austrian nationals own 14 farms, totalling 49 256ha. Americans own seven farms (82 023ha), the Swiss own six (42 741ha) and Italians own four (13 088ha).

British nationals have two farms (13 131ha), while other nationals like the Chinese (40ha), Canadian (3 233ha), the Dutch (4 166ha), Portuguese (12ha) and Spanish (12 710ha) all own a farm each.

The report, which the ministry’s spokesperson Jona Museko confirmed to be a draft yesterday, stated that it will take six years to acquire all the 243 farms.

“If the agriculture ministry’s budget for land acquisition is improved, at the rate of 229 348ha per year, it will take six years to acquire 1,2 [million] ha.

“Land purchase prices are different for each individual farm … Farm prices are fluctuating, this land will be purchased based on a market value,” the report reads.

In 2018, during the land conference, it was agreed that the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle has not delivered results. Thus, the conference decides on the expropriation of land with compensation.

“So far the market has delivered land for acquisition. However, the pace at which land acquisition can be fastened depends on the current status of the economy.

It is the status of the economy that informs how much land can be acquired,” the report reads.

The report further says the ministry has so far acquired 3,7 million hectares out of the targeted 5 million hectares under government budget by March 2020.

FARMS BOUGHT

Since November 2018, the government has expropriated 54 farms.

Five farms covering about 31 million hectares alone cost N$42,1 million.

The ministry stated that expropriation regulations were finalised and gazetted.

Of these farms, the government has 80 individual beneficiaries, one group, three close corporation and four cooperatives were resettled on.

“However, some farms were acquired before the second national land conference and only allocated after the second national land conference,” the report reads.

ANALYST

Economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu emphasised that Namibia should approach land inequality from two angles.

“One is in terms of the physical land area and the other is in terms of the capital to work the land. In Namibia, we face both which have had serious adverse socio-economic impact,” he added.

Kakujaha-Matundu said this affects food security at both rural household level and at national level.

“Leaving small room to increase agricultural production, which could address high levels of unemployment and poverty,” he said.