Testing the people's patience

19 December 2019 | Columns

Despite land reform policies adopted by government, land distribution in Namibia has remained skewed largely in favour of the white minority.

This is according an ancestral land commission draft report, which was handed to President Hage Geingob at State House on Tuesday.

The commission also revealed that 6 000 whites own 70% of the country's commercial land, while 97.4% of black people only have access to 30% of these lucrative tracts.

On the other side of the coin, the commission's chairperson Judge Shafimana Ueitele told the president that Agribank was obtaining court orders for the repossession of 179 farms.

The report stated that although the government had adopted well-intentioned land reform programmes such as the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme, these programmes lacked a robust environment to nurture and support professionally and financially. According to the Ueitele most of the farms sold on auction usually end up in the hands of white farmers.

The untold story, however, remains how, after independence, a new political elite inserted themselves as another layer of the advantaged in Namibia. We have had a land resettlement process in which the politically connected have benefited at the expense of the landless. It is disconcerting to realise that land enrichment has become the domain of those who should have been the overseers in terms of making sure that ordinary Namibians benefit. A full 30 years after independence land hunger still prevails, giving fiery ammunition to those who would stoke the fires of populism around this fundamental right.

More than point fingers at existing land ownership patterns that have prevailed since independence, we also have to take a critical look at what has been a shocking state of affairs in terms of government inaction and lethargy when it comes to dealing with both the urban land question and ordinary Namibians owning the means of production through land. The patience that many still have cannot be tested any longer. Firm and decisive action is needed.

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