April 23, 2004

NAMIBIA: Nujoma urges calm over land reform

Government's plan to step up its land reform programme by starting to expropriate some farms would be implemented strictly within the provisions of the Constitution and other relevant laws, President Sam Nujoma has announced. Touching on land reform and the issue of farm workers' welfare, while delivering his last State of the Nation address in the National Assembly, Nujoma said any concerns about the implementation of land expropriation had to be laid to rest. Efforts to expand agricultural production could only be successful if Namibia's people had access to adequate land as a primary factor of production, Nujoma stated. For that reason, Government was pursuing multi-pronged strategies to accelerate land reform and redistribution to landless Namibians, he added.

In the past year, Government had increased the budget for land acquisition from N$30 million to N$50 million in order to enable Namibia's citizens to become land owners through the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach, he said. "However, this approach has not yielded the required results," he added.

It was for that reason that Government had decided "to exercise its discretion to expropriate excess land from landowners who are now being identified", he continued. "I want to assure the nation and all stakeholders that this is being done in the interest of our people who are hungry and landless,"
Nujoma stated. "It will be implemented strictly within the provisions of our Constitution and other relevant laws. Therefore any concerns regarding the implementation of land expropriation should be laid to rest." As the agricultural sector intensified efforts to accelerate Namibia's drive to food self-sufficiency and food security, there had to be simultaneous efforts to protect the welfare of farmworkers, Nujoma added. He said it was against this background that Government had introduced an interim measure prohibiting the eviction of farm workers and their families from commercial farms. Plans were now under way to formulate a permanent solution to the problems facing long-serving farm workers and their families, he said. However, he did not reveal details about what measures were being contemplated. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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