Most Namibian families can’t own land

06 July 2018 | Economics

Sixty-four percent or two out of three Namibian families can not own the land on which they live. The figure of 64% is based on data collected during the 2016 Inter-Censal Demographic Survey and 2011 Population & Housing Census. Thirty-eight percent of these families live in communal areas where the law forbids the ownership of land. The other 26% are in urban informal settlements where local authorities seldom make land available which is affordable to lower income groups. These families therefore occupy land that belongs to local authorities, while those in communal areas occupy land that de facto belongs to traditional authorities.

What are the impacts on families unable to own land? How is the economy of Namibia affected by these laws and regulations? Before considering those questions it is useful to note that the legal and governance procedures which prevent land ownership in communal areas and towns were adopted after independence, and that they generally benefit the upper class. By 2018 the total number of families not able to own land will have risen to about 371,000, about 60 times more than all the commercial farms in Namibia. The scale of the problem thus goes way beyond questions of land distribution. Moreover, this is a matter of ownership and not access.

Major beneficiaries of the status quo are traditional authorities who can dispossess families of the land they occupy, sell and lease properties, and donate land to political patrons. In urban areas, local authorities limit the supply of residential land. This inflates prices so much that only relatively expensive housing and services can be developed. That provides handsome profits to property developers and their allies.

Returning to the question of impacts, families that can’t own property lack access to a combination of benefits. These are significant. Property can be used as a long-term investment in its own right, and to create short-term options that are not easily available to people without investments. Ownership provides a fixed address, credentials, greater permanence of tenure and the confidence to build a future and a home (as opposed to a house), it provides greater access to services as well as to collateral. Aspects of these benefits will be described in a forthcoming essay on property rights.

Increased property ownership would benefit Namibia’s economy in several ways. Public revenue would increase because more property owners would be available to pay rates and taxes, and property addresses will increase the traceability of defaulters. Investments in property would grow the overall wealth base of Namibia, thus creating more taxable revenue and capital. The opportunities to invest in properties would reduce spending on luxury imports and reduce the flow of revenue leaving Namibia. Imagine a family that owns a house on a small plot. Any surplus income could be saved and invested in the house: to add an extra room, give the house a coat of paint, fix a leaking roof, or to pay off more on a mortgage. The family gains a potential return on every dollar thus spent, unlike disposing of the same dollar on an imported car, or sunglasses or shoes.

Surely the time is right and ripe for Namibians to replace the discriminatory conditions that preclude many people from land ownership with ones that allow every family the choice of owning land or not. And if families so choose, they must be able to stay in their present physical and social environment.

The key is choice, creating options and allowing opportunities now closed to most Namibian families. These are needed increasingly as society evolves from a predominant focus on communal networks and customary leadership to socio-economic conditions in which nuclear families and accountable governance prevail. Besides, it is morally right for all Namibians to enjoy equal opportunities.

Similar News

 

Calle urges parties to account

20 hours ago | Economics

NDAMA NAKASHOLEFinance minister Calle Schlettwein has urged each political party to remain accountable to the public in regard to the public funds it receives.The figures...

Dangote signs US$650mln Afreximbank loan

20 hours ago | Economics

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has signed a US$650 million loan facility with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for his oil refinery project in Nigeria.Africa’s...

CIF, NSI highlight criticality of adherence to standards

20 hours ago | Economics

STAFF REPORTERAn efficient use of scarce financial resources both in the public and private sector demands an awareness and application of building standards and adherence...

Ramaphosa talks tough on mine safety

20 hours ago | Economics

Safety is a huge issue in South Africa’s deep and dangerous mines and increasingly a focus for investors. A spate of deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold...

May calls on citizens to back her plan

1 day - 17 July 2018 | Economics

Prime Minister Theresa May defended her plan for leaving the European Union (EU) as the only viable option, and called on voters and lawmakers to...

Informal sector a big player

2 days ago - 16 July 2018 | Economics

NDAMA NAKASHOLELocal tax experts say the informal sector plays an important role in the economy and should be treated as such.Following the circulation of leaflets...

United Arab Emirates pledges­ US$10 billion in SA

2 days ago - 16 July 2018 | Economics

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has pledged to invest US$10 billion in South Africa's economy, including the tourism and mining sectors, the South African presidency...

Price monster puts pedal to the metal

5 days ago - 13 July 2018 | Economics

The hike of 60c/l in the fuel price in June resulted in a spike in annual overall transport inflation and pushed up Namibia’s annual overall...

Finance to appoint revenue head by August

5 days ago - 13 July 2018 | Economics

NDAMA NAKASHOLE - The ministry of finance has kicked off the search for the commissioner of its new Namibia Revenue Agency (NAMRA).The ministry’s senior technical...

What is the purpose of livestock in Namibia?

5 days ago - 13 July 2018 | Economics

It is established fact, indeed dogma, that Namibian livestock are used to produce meat, as well as some milk, skins, eggs, draught power and manure....

Latest News

Calle urges parties to account

20 hours ago | Economics

NDAMA NAKASHOLEFinance minister Calle Schlettwein has urged each political party to remain accountable to the public in regard to the public funds it receives.The figures...

Rest easy, gentle giant

20 hours ago | Opinion

The late Theo-Ben Gurirab was without an iota of doubt a gentle giant, whose life was lived in service and dedication to Namibia's struggle for...

Dangote signs US$650mln Afreximbank loan

20 hours ago | Economics

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has signed a US$650 million loan facility with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for his oil refinery project in Nigeria.Africa’s...

New revenue agency operational by...

20 hours ago | Government

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein is optimistic that the much-anticipated Namibia Revenue Agency will be operational come 1 March 2019. This will coincide with the start...

Dippenaar blames Joschko for crash

20 hours ago | Justice

Jandré Dippenaar has placed the blame for a crash in which six people died squarely on the shoulders of Markus Walter Joschko, who was also...

CIF, NSI highlight criticality of...

20 hours ago | Economics

STAFF REPORTERAn efficient use of scarce financial resources both in the public and private sector demands an awareness and application of building standards and adherence...

Ramaphosa talks tough on mine...

20 hours ago | Economics

Safety is a huge issue in South Africa’s deep and dangerous mines and increasingly a focus for investors. A spate of deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold...

NAB appoints new CEO

20 hours ago | Agriculture

The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has announced the appointment of Dr Fidelis Nyambe Mwazi as its newly appointed CEO. Mwazi takes over the reins from...

Seed bill could limit imports...

20 hours ago | Agriculture

The Seed and Seed Varieties Bill, expected to be adopted by the National Assembly, could limit the importing and exporting of seeds, finance minister Calle...

Load More