February 26, 2004

Government announces plans to expropriate commercial farms

Government has announced plans to expropriate commercial farms, in an effort to speed up land reform in the interest of the public. As Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab has announced, farmers who had lost their farms would be justly compensated as provided for in the Namibian Constitution. According to him, delays in implementing land reform, brought about by the "cumbersome" willing-seller, willing-buyer process left expropriation as the only other way Government would meet the "high public demand for agricultural land". It was not clear how many farms were to be expropriated and when exactly the process would start, however, it has been claimed that eight farms - among them conflict spots Ongombo West, Krumhuk and Kalkpan - had been identified for initial expropriation. "Committed to seeing through the willing-seller, willing-buyer approach, Government has witnessed with dismay and outrage how farm workers are left destitute and dumped with their families and belongings on the roadsides by their former employers," the Prime Minister said. He said more than 240.000 people were still waiting to be resettled, while commercial farmers continued to make it difficult for Government to buy land by inflating prices.

Since 1995, Government has set aside N$20 million a year to buy land, a sum, which was increased to N$50 million last year. Still, as the State emphasises, farmers have not been forthcoming.
On the other side, the President of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), which represents commercial farmers, Jan de Wet, has announced that his union would react to Government's announcement. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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