Lack of Transparency Taints Land Reform

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Namibia’s controversial land reform might be tainted by corruption in all facets of the programme if no competencies are effected to strengthen transparency.

Dr Nashilongo Shivute, the Under Secretary for Land Management in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement told New Era that in Namibia, the tortuous process through which issues of land are dealt is tantamount to advancing corruption.

She added that transparency is one area that needs address and the Government plans to bring in technologies that would ensure the public has access to files and can do their own auditing.

Dr Shivute spoke to New Era on the sidelines of a three-day workshop on “Land Governance: Building Trust” held by the Polytechnic of Namibia.
Speakers at the workshop that started on Tuesday stated that there is a growing threat of corruption in land administration.

The trend is attributed to the absence of credible records of land availability and transactions, and lack of board dissemination of information on land rights and policies. These are seen as the main vehicles that easily ferment corruption and malpractice in land allocation and management.

Stakeholders were called to minimise chances of corruption by identifying efforts aimed at making land administration transparent.

“Land, being next to labour, the most widely available resource in the developing world, is one of those prime assets that has witnessed more than its fair share of graft,” Dr Solomon Haile from the Training and Capacity Building Branch of the United Nations Habitat in Kenya said at the workshop.

Because transparency seems to be a critical component of a functioning land administration, the Polytechnic of Namibia with the assistance of UN-Habitat and ITC is holding a workshop that tackles issues of land administration in the country.

“Government officials engaged in land administration are attending this training and we hope to further sensitize them about the enemy (graft) lurking in the backyard, “Haile said. He added that civil society is also participating. This would encourage them to beef up their watchdog role and also get land administration under the radar.

The Expert Group Meeting held in Nairobi last year recognised and validated the lack of a training programme on transparency in land administration and the urgent need to roll out one, Haile said.

And thus the Polytechnic of Namibia on Tuesday launched the Integrated Land Management Institute (ILMI).

According to the Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, the ILMI was created as a vehicle for the delivery of land management projects and capacity building programmes aimed at addressing land administration challenges.

Approved by the Polytechnic Senate in 2006, the ILMI will focus on applied research, consulting services and tailor-made short courses for various target groups.

“The Polytechnic is proud to be playing its part in building capacity in land management for the public and private sectors locally and in the sub-region,” Tjivikua said.

Current ILMI projects include the Formalisation of Informal Settlements in Namibia and the implementation of GIS Tools for Regional Planning project in partnership with the National Planning Commission.

Other projects are the Development of Effective Tools for Registration of Communal Lands, carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement.

Tjivikua says development of effective land policies and efficient land administration systems is sensitive and complicated in a newly independent country as Namibia.

This is because generations of indigenous communities suffered dispossession of their ancestral land and grossly inequitable land distribution by successive colonial regimes.

Thus post-colonial governments face a challenge of managing considerable pressure for land restitution and redistribution to the dispossessed and landless.

The challenge, Tjivikua elaborated, demands the involvement of all stakeholders both in planning and execution of land policies and administration systems that can be trusted to deliver land as a vehicle for economic empowerment for all.

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