Government through the Ministry of Land Reform last year spent close to N$240 million to acquire 31 farms for resettlement purposes, the Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma announced on Wednesday.
Addressing staff during the annual staff address at the ministry’s headquarters in Windhoek, Nujoma said out of the N$336 million allocated for land acquisition and resettlement last year, government managed to purchase 31 farms measuring 154 298 hectares against the target of 187 000 hectares for N$231 million.
Nujoma noted that another 25 farms measuring 131 786 hectares were also purchased at a cost of N$192 million pending final purchase and five farms worth N$32.7 million have been filed with the Land Tribunal for further processing pending final acquisition.
“This informs us that several innovative approaches to land acquisition that have been introduced under the current legal framework are bearing positive results,” Nujoma said. Furthermore, Nujoma said during the year under review 43 families and a youth organisation were resettled.
According to him the ministry anticipated this number to increase this financial year as the 25 farms that are pending final acquisition are planned and advertised.
Nujoma said although several innovative approaches to acquire land under the current legal framework are being investigated to encourage the release of land for resettlement purposes, the amount of land that is eventually acquired still falls short of the current demand as reflected by the number of applicants.But he added: “I am aware that work on the criteria for expropriation of farms especially in the regions where government is not getting land is at an advanced stage.”
Nujoma said that this method will complement the current market based land acquisition strategies and should thus be explored by paying particular attention to the suggestions and recommendations in the judgement in the Gunther Kessler versus the then Ministry of Lands and Resettlement case of 2008. In this regard, Nujoma appealed to the chairperson of the Land Reform Advisory Commission to look into the issue and discuss and engage stakeholders and the farming community.
“Related to this issue is the critical matter of informing ourselves on the amount of land still to be acquired for resettlement purposes via the growing concerns from our communities for a demand driven land reform process,” he added.
He said these are topical policy issues that the commission should interrogate together with the respective directorate and give some further advice. He said in the area of post-settlement support there is a need to mobilise and seek sectoral and inter-ministerial support in order to respond to the basic needs for water and related farm infrastructure for resettled farmers.
“As a ministry we need to moot a comprehensive approach that will systematically address post settlement issues while continuously engaging our stakeholders at policy and budgetary levels,” he said.
In this regard, Nujoma called on all relevant departments in close liaison with regional deputy directors to map out a clear strategy that covers all regions demonstrating the prioritising of the farms to be worked on in terms of rehabilitation of water infrastructure and related items before the budgetary allocations are released.