OSHAKATI - The newly-inaugurated Lands Reform Advisory Commission Resettlement Sub-Committee should strive to be impartial when they look at applications for land by thousands of land-hungry Namibians who were uprooted by a settler regime.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Lidwina Shapwa, who also serves as chairperson of the Land Reform Advisory Commission (LRAC) urged the new members to acquaint themselves with the rele-vant articles in the Land Reform Act.
She made the remarks, which were read on her behalf by Commissioner Davids Pintile, at the inauguration of the LRAC Resettlement Sub-Committee for the Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions.
“You are not placed in these committees to advance the interest of some or only for the applicants from your communities, but to ensure that the process is transparent and fair to every applicant,” Shapwa stressed.
The committee members will form part of the new LRAC Resettlement Sub-Committee for the next two years.
Describing land allocation as a sensitive and delicate matter, Shapwa cautioned: “Issues of land allocation always cause conflict and thus have a high potential to become explosive and disturb our hard earned peace, tranquility as well as spoil our path towards prosperity.”
The committee, which will consist of 10 members, will among others be tasked to receive, scrutinise and evaluate applications for resettlement using the resettlement criteria. Its job will include short-listing and making recommendations to the LRAC.
Furthermore, the members have to verify land allocation of farming units in order to avoid double allocation and receive, scrutinise and make recommendations on applications for sub-leasing of farming units, the inheritance of farming units and change of land use.
The Director of Resettlement in the Ministry, Alfred Sikopo, told New Era that the new members have been selected from a pool of diverse stakeholders such as traditional authorities, line ministries, farmers’ unions and local authorities to enrich and enhance the capacity of the commission as an institution.
Shapwa admitted that issues of land allocation always precipitate conflict and should therefore be dealt with impartially and fairly.
According to him, similar committees were formed in Karas, Hardap, Khomas, Otjozondjuba, Oshikoto, Omaheke, Caprivi and Kavango regions.
Land resettlement is still an important political and economic topic in Namibia. It consists of two different strategies: resettlement, and transfer of commercially viable agricultural land.
Resettlement is aimed at improving the lives of displaced or dispossessed previously disadvantaged Namibians.
Farms obtained by government for resettlement purposes are usually split into several sections, and dozens of families are being resettled on what had previously been one farm.
Government does not directly conduct the transfer of commercial agricultural land.
Would-be farmers with a previously disadvantaged background obtain farms privately or through affirmative action loans.
In both cases, the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle applies through government-facilitated loans.