Foreigners still own huge tracts of land

By Albertina Nakale

Windhoek

The Ministry of Land Reform remains challenged in terms of acquisition and redistribution of land to the previously disadvantaged, as foreigners in joint ventures with Namibians still own huge tracts of agricultural commercial farmland.
This is despite the consensus resolution of the 1991 National Land Conference that non-Namibians must not own farmland at the expense of previously economically and politically disadvantaged black Namibians.
The director of land reform and resettlement in the Ministry of Land Reform, Peter Nangolo, yesterday, highlighted some of the ministry’s challenges in terms of land acquisition and redistribution.
He said that to date some 247 agricultural farms measuring 1.2 million hectares are owned by non-Namibians, some of them so-called absentee farmers.
Out of 247 farms, the majority at 129 are owned by Germans and measure 630 000 hectares, followed by South African nationals who own 81 farms measuring 350 000 hectares.
Australians own 14 farms measuring 49 000 hectares, while about seven farms measuring 82 000 hectares are in American hands, and Swiss nationals own about six farms measuring 43 000 hectares.
Four farms measuring 13 000 hectares are owned by Italians, while British nationals own two farms measuring 13 000 hectares. A farm measuring 13 000 hectares is owned by a Spanish national, while a Chinese national owns a huge tract of land measuring 40 001 hectares.
A productive farm is in the hands of a Canadian national whose land measures
3 000 hectares, while a Dutch national has a farm measuring 4 000 hectares.
Nangolo revealed that about 34 farms measuring 206 000 hectares are in the hands of joint ventures.
Out of these farms, Namibians in joint ventures with Germans top the list with 12 farms measuring 52 000 hectares, followed by joint ventures with South Africans who own 10 farms that measure 54 000 hectares.
Namibian, South African and Spanish nationals are also in joint ventures in seven farms measuring 47 000 hectares, while two other farms that measure 11 000 hectares are jointly owned by Namibians and Australians. Nangolo also revealed that two farms measuring 13 000 hectares are jointly owned by Namibians with foreign nationals, whom the ministry could not yet establish. Namibians and Russians are also in a joint venture in a huge farm measuring 29 000 hectares. He said the lands ministry is also challenged by limited funds for land purchase, as the appropriated funds do not correlate with the “target land”.The lands ministry also remains challenged by the skyrocketing prices of land, which are unparalleled in agricultural commercial land sales history.
Nangolo said that legal constraints and conflicting policies remain a stumbling block in land acquisition.
Another challenge, he said, is the uneven distribution of offers, adding that most offers come from the southern regions of Hardap and Karas.
Fewer offers, he said, are observed in Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto and parts of Erongo and Kunene regions.
“We are going to concentrate where the fewer offers are coming from to see if we can get more farms in those areas,” he said.
According to him, foreigners who own land will continue to own such land, but once they want to sell it they will be required to sell to Namibian nationals only.
The ministry has come up with a special certificate of waiver to ensure that waived farms are sold to previously disadvantaged Namibians in addition to the establishment of a price negotiating committee to guide the farm pricing process.



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