The much-awaited Land Bill that aims to make the land reform process more effective is expected to be tabled once the National Assembly resumes.
This was confirmed by the Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma, who launched the second National Conference on Land Reform and the Land Question on Wednesday.
The second national land conference is scheduled to take place before the end of the year or latest next year.
Nujoma said the ministry, in an effort to make the land reform process more effective, undertook a process of reviewing, amending and consolidating various policies and legislation.
He explained that regional consultations took place to gather opinions on the consolidation of the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act, Act 6 of 1995 as amended, and the Communal Land Reform Act, Act 6 of 2002 as amended into one Land Act.
“Once parliament passes the Land Bill – and since we are incorporating the two Acts – maybe there will be no need to have the second land conference,” he noted.
Nujoma said that institutions that deal with land administration would also be consolidated to benefit from an efficient and effective land administration process. Landless Namibians feel the 1991 land conference focused predominantly on agricultural land while the issue of residential land has not been deliberated on. A year after independence in 1990, government steered a national discussion on the land issue, which culminated in the National Conference on Land Reform and the Land Question.
If the second national land conference does take place, it will critically re-look colonial dispossession, equity, efficiency and promoting productive and sustainable livelihoods through implementing programmes targeted at poverty eradication.
Nujoma said that issues such as colonial dispossession, i.e. land taken under colonial rule, and how to stop exploitation of farm workers, are still relevant 26 years after independence.
“The government is aware of the desperate calls from our people to expedite the process of land and agrarian reform, albeit within our agreed policy and legal framework. Similarly, it is pleasing to note the rate at which land is being acquired has positively changed, except for Otjozondjupa, Kunene, Erongo, Oshikoto, Omaheke and Khomas regions,” he said.
In a quest to address land dispossession, the Ministry of Land Reform has acquired 502 farms measuring over 3.1 million hectares worth more than N$1.7 billion.
At least 5 231 beneficiaries have been resettled since independence.
Under the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme programme that is jointly administered by Agribank and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Nujoma said, a total of 3.4 million hectares have been acquired at a cost of N$762 million.
Further, he said, 98 000 customary land rights and 1 079 leasehold rights have been registered.
“Therefore, after 25 years of implementing the said resolutions the ministry, as articulated in the spirit of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, found it important to once again re-group and consult the Namibian nation on the direction that the current land reform process should take place. This call is made to all stakeholders to review the progress made, challenges encountered, and propose ways to expedite the land reform programme,” the minister maintained.
He said the ministry would consult all 14 regions, adding: “We will not hide behind policies or legislation during these consultations but are open to dialogue as long as it contributes towards enhanced livelihoods for our people.”