June 30, 2005

Ministry searching for "innovative" ways of accelerating land reform

The Minister of Lands, Jerry Ekandjo, has announced that his Ministry would look at "innovative" ways of accelerating land reform. "Through increased focus and dedicating the required number of officials on land purchase activities, we shall move at a faster pace," Ekandjo told the National Assembly. He did, however, not elaborate on what measures he planned for speeding up land reform but noted that redistribution and resettlement alone would not realise the goals of NDP 2 and Vision 2030. Ekandjo said formerly disadvantaged citizens needed skills development and start-up capital to improve their ability to create sustainable livelihood from the land.
The Minister said while it was his Ministry's responsibility to resettle the landless, all other Governmental ministries had a role to play in the "post-resettlement" support of beneficiaries. He said if other Government departments played their role in providing the resettled families with necessary infrastructure, agricultural skills, water, health and education it would go a long way towards accelerating self-reliance. The Lands Ministry receives an allocation of N$138,4 million for this financial year. Of this amount, N$50 million will be allocated for the purchase of farms for resettlement. "Support to beneficiaries of the resettlement programme remains a challenging issue. It has been difficult for resettled families to put their allotments to full productive use without initial Government support," said Ekandjo.
Ekandjo told the House that the 99-year lease for resettlement farms had been revised and after the valuation of the allotments on the resettlement farms later this year, a new lease agreement would be implemented. The Lands Minister said valuation services were needed to ensure that Government gets "value for money" when negotiating prices to buy commercial farms for resettlement purposes. "Due to a number of factors that involve inadequate availability of proper farm lands, protracted negotiations on prices and lengthy operational procedures in the process of land acquisition, it has been difficult to implement the land acquisition programme at the desired pace," said Ekandjo. According to the minister, on the score of land tax for commercial farmers government expected revenue of N$28,2 million in 2005. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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