Credit crunch slows down resettlement

The lands ministry says N$6.1 billion is required to reach its 2020 land acquisition targets.

13 March 2018 | Agriculture

The minister of land reform, Utoni Nujoma, says preliminary work has already been undertaken for the second land conference that President Hage Geingob said would take place later this year.

Nujoma said a date had not yet been set but his ministry was working in tandem with the Office of the Prime Minister.

He said he hoped it would provide a platform where Namibians could give input to ensure a “reasonable” land-reform process that would be acceptable to all citizens and international investors.

“It will be a responsible land-reform programme,” Nujoma said at a three-day review and planning workshop that started in Windhoek yesterday.



Acquisitions and developments

The ministry had planned to acquire 3.1 million hectares of land for resettlement purposes during the previous strategic plan period (2017/18), but was able to buy only 836 000 hectares, made up of 155 farms, costing N$1.1 billion.

During 2017/18 the ministry planned to resettle 579 beneficiaries, but only 365 were resettled on 104 farming units in //Karas (26), Erongo (26), Hardap (104), Khomas (10), Kunene (24), Omaheke (99), Oshikoto (1) and Otjozondjupa (75).

Nujoma said that was because most suitable farms (360 farms totalling 996 202 hectares) were offered to the government after they were waived in favour of Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) candidates.

He said for the fifth National Development Plan (NDP 5) period N$2.1 billion was allocated for farm acquisitions, which he said was not enough to buy up the remaining 1.9 million hectares of farmland needed by 2020.

Nujoma said to reach the target by 2020, the ministry would have to buy 60 000 hectares per year for the remaining three years. That would cost N$2 billion per year, or N$6.1 billion over the next three years.

As a result, only 136 beneficiaries will be resettled on 224 123 hectares over the next five years.



Nujoma said the programme for communal land development (PCLD) was “bearing fruit”. This programme is jointly supported by the European Union, the German and Namibian governments, through which “substantial socio-economic investments” have been given to communal farmers.

In this regard, 286 000 hectares have been developed with 857 kilometres of fencing, 20 multi-purpose kraals erected, 30 boreholes drilled and another 30 rehabilitated, and 98 kilometres of water pipelines installed in Kavango East and West, Ohangwena, Omusati and Zambezi regions.

Nujoma said these infrastructural developments would benefit 7 800 farming households.

Infrastructure development projects are envisaged for Otjozondjupa and Omaheke in the next financial year.

A total of 177 593 communal land rights were mapped and digitised, which accounted for 90% of the 196 000 communal land rights that can be registered nationally.

Another 116 220 customary land rights (or 65%) have been registered and digitised and 101 432 certificates have been issued. This programme is expected to affect 500 000 citizens.

A number of lease agreements under the resettlement programme have also been finalised. These are 16 in Otjozondjupa, 19 in //Karas, nine in Kunene, four in Erongo, seven in Oshikoto, one in Khomas and five in Hardap.

During this financial year 21 894 property deeds and 3 776 sectional-title deeds were registered, contributing more than N$2.5 million in revenue.

Property registration is ongoing; so far, 44 898 deeds documents have been digitised.





Valuation roll

The main valuation roll for 2012 was approved by the valuation court in November 2016. Based on that, the lands ministry revised the rates of land tax downwards in response to an increase in land values, Nujoma said.

He said had the current rate been maintained, it would have led to exorbitant land tax being paid by landowners.

However, farmers appealed the decision of the valuation court in the High Court, a matter which is still pending.

In the meantime the ministry has proceeded to issue the 2016/17 land tax assessments based on the 2012 valuation roll.

After the High Court on 21 February 2018 stopped the issuance of the tax assessments on commercial farmland, no commercial agricultural farmland transactions could take place until the interdict was lifted or the main review case was disposed of, Nujoma said.

He said notwithstanding the interdict, the ministry was urgently engaging stakeholders to find a solution to the effects of the interdict.

The 2017/18 valuation roll is currently being prepared and will be on display during the second quarter of the 2018/19 financial year.

During 2016/17, land taxes of N$20.8 million were collected.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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