It was indeed a commendable move by our government to have come up with the idea of banning foreigners from owning land in our country.
It was indeed the position of some of us long time ago when we were in the committee chaired by our former Prime Minister Comrade Hage G. Geingob which was dealing with the land issue. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, our committee became dormant after some changes. The foreign nations were then allowed to own land in our country, which was, in my view a myopic decision.
The decision of the Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma and indeed the government must be applauded for having reconsidered this issue. The selling of land to foreigners has a lot of negative repercussions for this country.
Suffice just to say that: firstly foreign nations have access to foreign currency and because of that they find it easy and cheap to buy land after changing their money in the local currency.
That situation drives the prices of land high and makes it impossible for local people to compete with these foreigners.
Secondly, we have many citizens of this country who want to own land on which to farm but they cannot access that land for reasons beyond their control. When these people see their land falling into the hands of foreigners they surely will not be happy.
After all the people of this country fought for their land. It is also difficult if not impossible for Namibians to own land in the countries where these foreigners are coming from, while the foreigners are getting land in this country and in the process keep Namibians perpetually landless in their motherland. What difference does it make whether the land is taken by force from us by colonial powers or sold to foreign nations, leaving citizens landless?
The liberation struggle was not only for gaining freedom but also to recover our land which was taken by force from us by colonial powers.
Therefore it does not make any sense for us to have fought to liberate our country and regain our land but now to sell this precious asset to people from other countries.
I am sure most if not all our people will be happy if this bill becomes a law. The praise must be given to our minister and the government to have come up with this brilliant idea.
We really hope that our parliament will not disappoint us by not passing this progressive act, as what the National Council did with the acquisition of land by foreigners in urban areas.
Another issue is the ill-conceived land tax which is negatively affecting formally disadvantaged people and become an albatross on those who struggled to acquire commercial land. Now that the law intends to facilitate the register and issuance of a secure title to those who farm on communal land it might also be reasonable to extend this infamous land tax to the holders of these titles in communal areas. Or maybe reconsider this whole land tax altogether.
The irony of this issue is that some people have fenced off huge tracts of land in the communal areas (sometimes even bigger than some farms in the commercial areas) where they are farming just like in commercial land but they are not paying any tax or contributing equivalent amounts of money either to the community or to the state.
Something has to be done to address this issue.