Diamonds and Land Should Both Be Tradeable Commodities

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A short comment on the press release from the Department of Land Reform on September 18, 2006 re Erindi. I welcome the response of the Department of Land Reform. I found it so healthy for myself and, I believe, the nation and the outside world that we like brothers can discuss this controversial issue in an amicable way. Please bear in mind the role of perception with investors and people tend to become truths. Use my ‘ignorance’ or ‘wisdom’ about Land Reform as a case study for your Department, because I am supposed to be more informed than a typical foreign investor. Firstly I just want to correct the statement that I wanted to buy more land. Journalists of six newspapers attended my conference and can vouch that I never mentioned buying land. Land Reform per sÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© is perceived by foreign investors as the trigger, the catalysts that imploded Zimbabwe’s economy into the basket case it is today – the laughing stock of the world. That’s why Land Reform scares the living daylights out of foreign investors, and not only in agriculture or Eco Tourism, but in the whole economy. Like communism and separate development (Russia and South Africa), one can waste billions of dollars on promoting Land Reform in Namibia, but foreign investors will still find it unpalatable because of the way it is executed, and also in its present form it does not make any economic sense to them. I will gladly appear on live NBC Television with the Department and the press present to debate the economic merits of Land Reform. Imagine if Namibians were only allowed to buy diamonds, the price would fall to nothing and everybody would walk around in poverty with hands full of diamonds. I believe there is no difference between diamonds and land, both should be tradeable commodities and both have emotional and sentimental values. The only sense that commercial Land Reform makes is political and emotional, but definitely not businesswise. If the nation is willing to pay the price for this goal I, as a democrat, say go ahead but be aware in the future of the wrath of the masses, the poor and unemployed who are unconsciously helping to pay for this expensive (feel good) exercise and who are not going to benefit from it. In Ethiopia, 90% of the people live off the land – subsistence farmers – one of the poorest countries in the world. In America, 10% of the people own 90% of the land – one of the wealthiest countries. There is a negative correlation between the number of people living off the land and national wealth. If more people become subsistence farmers, something terrible is wrong with a country’s economy. My sincere advice to the Department of Land Reform is: “Take your focus away from commercial farmland and concentrate on unlocking the billions frozen away in communal areas unavailable for the upcoming class of black entrepreneurs who need all the capital they can get their hands on. And by the way, no offence, but please change your Department’s name to, for example, Department of Land Development and please read Hernando de Soto’s book ‘The Mystery of Capital’ of which I gave 70 copies to Parliament to help convince them of the importance of economic freedom, a common trait among economically successful nations. Governments all over the world do not have a successful track record of solving poverty and unemployment on their own. Only the private sector and specifically Small Businessmen (entrepreneurs) can do this job. Finally, will the Department please explain to the nation why similar land to ours (Erindi and the Northern areas around Etosha) is bought by foreigners for between N$20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 and N$30ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 in Mpumalanga compared with our local price of between N$300 and N$500. And how does that benefit the country. Lastly, I would gladly and humbly serve as a free adviser to the Department for the good of the nation, and no ill feelings. Gert Joubert