June 14, 2002

NAMIBIA: German Aid to Finance Land Reform?

Reports say that Namibian President Sam Nujoma is seeking substantial German aid to finance land reform based on the principle of willing seller, willing buyer.

Namibia needs N$ 1bn to cover the costs of buying white-owned farms for land reform, Nujoma said in an interview, before meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The Namibian government was only able to earmark N$ 20m a year for land reform which is aimed at helping 200.000 landless black people, said Nujoma. "We need more funds to buy more lands," he said.

Nujoma declined to say how much money he expected to win from Berlin. "Any part of the (total) sum would be a great help to us," he said. President Nujoma also declined to criticise land seizure policies followed by Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe. He said that problems in Zimbabwe were caused by British colonialism but did not elaborate. Nujoma admitted, however, that image problems stemming from Zimbabwe were affecting his country. "(Namibian land reform) is based on willing seller, willing buyer," he stressed.

Nujoma, who earlier met with German business leaders, said he was seeking more foreign investment in Namibia and noted that more than 50 German companies were already active in the country. "Tourism is now the fastest growing industry in Namibia." Nujoma said that German tourists were the biggest single group of foreign visitors.

In a separate development, 19 seamen died when the fishing trawler Meob Bay sank near Luederitz on Friday, June 7. Most of the crew members who drowned were young people from the North, especially from the Ohangwena and Omusati Regions. The town of Luderitz was in a state of emotional shock as the community gathered on Thuesday 11 for a memorial service for the victims. Tears flowed freely among the more than 800 residents who attended the service to pay their last respects to the 12 men known to have drowned and the seven who are missing, believed dead. Four days of searching had failed to locate the bodies of the seven missing crew members. (Business Day)

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