A Snapshot of the “Structure” Responsible for the Implementation of the Land Reform

The main agency for land reform implementation in Namibia is the Ministry of Land Reform (MLR). An understanding of the governance structure of MLR is necessary for grasping the process of the RLR implementations in Namibia. The structure of administration within the MLR consists of four main departments for land governance (Figure 7.2). The first is the Department of Land Reform, Resettlement and Regional Programme Implementation which deals with the acquisition of agricultural commercial land (and resettlement of such land) and the administration of communal land. The department consists of two main Directorates—the Directorate of Land Reform and Resettlement (DLRR) and the Directorate of Regional Programme Implementation (DRPI) which has 14 regional offices all over the country. Each regional office in the country consists of such a division that provides land sector services to the people in that region through decentralization of the ministry’s land administration activities.

The DLRR is tasked with achieving the land reform objectives through the provision of secure tenure, resettlement, and sustainable land use and land acquisition. The DLRR consists of three main divisions, namely the Division of Land Boards Tenure and Advice (LBTA), the Division of Resettlement, and the Division of Land Use Planning and Allocation (LUPA). The LBTA is responsible for the administration of communal land through traditional authority and communal land boards. It ensures customary land rights registration and leaseholds. It is also responsible for sustainable utilization of communal land in Namibia. The LUPA is responsible for agricultural commercial land acquisition by the state for the purposes of resettlement. It deals with farm offers made to the state through the WS-WB principle. It also carries out assessment and demarcation of such land and determines its suitability for resettlement purposes.

The second department is the Department of General Services which only provides services to other departments. The third is the Directorate of Planning, Research, and Training and Information Services (DPRTIS). The DPRTIS has the task of planning, training, and research; and information

Illustration of the organizational structure of MLR

FIGURE 7.2 Illustration of the organizational structure of MLR.

services related to the work of MLR. The fourth is the Department of Land Management (DLM) which is tasked with administration of urban land through ensuring registration, valuation, and taxation purposes, recording and keeping the country-wide cadastre of such properties. It is the department responsible for a variety of land management aspects, including property registration, cadastre, and taxation just to mention a few. DLM consists of three directorates (each with two divisions). Its Directorate of Deeds (DDR) is responsible for registration of fixed properties and real rights in the country. It carries out its activities through two main divisions, namely, division of deeds examination and division of deeds archiving. One of the directorates within the DLM is the Directorate of Valuation and Estate Management (DVEM) which is responsible for the provision of valuation and land tax administration services. It carries out its mandate through two divisions— the Division of General Valuation and the Division of Rating and Taxation. With an understanding of the governance structure of MLR, it was possible to conduct critical analyses of the processes of land acquisition and allocation to identify problem areas.

Identifying the Delay-Generating Steps in the Land Acquisition Process in the Reform

The WS-WB is the current mode of land acquisition. It is dependent on the land made available to the market by the sellers, but the state has a preferential right to purchase. The Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 1995 (No. 6 of 1995) makes provision for the state’s preferential right. This means that before any agricultural land enters the open market, the state, through the MLR, needs to express its interest. In simple terms, only when the state has waived its interest by issuing a certificate of waiver can the seller offer the farm to private buyers. The process of land acquisition starts when a willing seller makes an offer to sell agricultural land to the state (Figure 7.3).

After the offer is made, the DLRR/DRPL receive and scrutinize the offer, then forward it to the land-use planners to carry out assessment and demarcation. The planners carry out field visits to determine the farm’s suitability and demarcate the farm into farming units ranging from preferably 2,500 ha and more, or less depending on the carrying capacity and agro-ecological zoning of that

Land acquisition process showing delay-generating activities (shaded)

FIGURE 7.3 Land acquisition process showing delay-generating activities (shaded).

region. After the field visit, they make recommendations whether to waive or value the farm to the Land Acquisition Committee (LAC). When a farm is found suitable for resettlement purposes, it is then recommended to be valued for possible purchase, but in the event where it is found unsuitable, the LAC recommends to the Land Reform Advisory Commission (LRAC) to advise the Minister to waive such a farm. When a farm is found suitable, it is forwarded to the Directorate of Valuation, whereby a second team carries out field work to inspect the farm to determine the value. On the basis of this valuation a counter-offer is recommended to the owner and price negotiations take place. In the event where the farm owner is not in agreement with the valuation price offered by the state, they are entitled to appeal to the Lands Tribunal, as there is no room for withdrawal of such offer after a counter-offer is issued. The valuation reports, assessment reports by the land use planners, and price negotiations outcomes are then submitted and presented to the LRAC for discussions and consideration. The LRAC has the right to oppose the recommendations of both the planners and valuers. The LRAC then advises the Minister to purchase such land if they are in agreement or either to waive it. The legal compliance is that the Act stipulates different time periods for the different stages within the land acquisition process. The farm offer must be accepted within 90 days. The first stage of the process takes up to 60 days, the State must decide to either buy or not, and carry out activities such as assessment, presentation to LAC, valuation, and recommendation to LRAC. The LRAC is required within 30 days to make recommendations to the Minister. The Minister then has 14 days to accept or reject the offer. In the event where the Minister rejects the offer, a certificate of waiver (valid for 12 months) is issued as there is no present interest from the State. It is a requirement that the LRAC/Minister makes a recommendation within the stipulated timeframe. In the event where any of the parties fails to do so, the offer is deemed declined by the farm owner, and the Minister, upon the request of the farm owner, must issue a certificate of waiver. In the event where the state is interested in acquiring the farm and a counter-offer is issued, the farm owner must inform the Minister in writing whether the offer is accepted or not within 14 days from the date of notice. The Minister convenes a price negotiation committee to negotiate the purchase price with the farm owner and advise the Minister thereof. If no agreement is reached during negotiations, the owner, not later than 60 days afterward, may make an application to the Lands Tribunal for the determination of the purchase price.

Exposing the Delay-Generating Steps in Land Allocation (Resettlement) Process in the Reform

The other aspect of the reform implementation is the process of land allocation, which is the physical allocation of such land to the beneficiaries (previously disadvantaged Namibians). The process

Land allocation (resettlement) process showing delay-generating activities (shaded)

FIGURE 7.4 Land allocation (resettlement) process showing delay-generating activities (shaded).

starts off when the Division of Resettlement receives the approved allotment (demarcation) plan and notes from the LUPA division (refer to Figure 7.4). After the first activity, resettlement (legal) notices for the approved allotment plans are prepared. It is compulsory that the notices must be forwarded to Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for scrutiny by the legal drafters to ensure correctness. The scrutinized notices are then sent back to the MLR for the Minister’s signature and approval. After approval, the allotments are gazette, and thereafter advertisement follows. The farming units available for resettlement are advertised in the local media: in the newspapers, advertising boards at the head office, as well as regional offices, radio stations, and so forth. The advert runs for a period of one month. The prospective beneficiaries then apply for the available farming units, using a prescribed resettlement form available from the MLR.

After the advertisement, the Resettlement (LRAC) Regional Committee (RRC) convenes not later than two weeks from the date of closure of the advert to screen applications and recommend applicants to the LRAC. The LRAC sits once a month and selects, makes final recommendations, and submits the names of the successful applicants to the Minister. The Minister has the mandate to either reject or approve the LRAC recommendations. In a case where the Minister approves the LRAC recommendations, the LRAC minutes are signed by the chairperson or Permanent Secretary and preparation of the allotment letters commence. The allotment letters are prepared and forwarded to the Minister for signature. The signed allotment letters are then delivered to relevant regional offices for notification and issued to the approved/successful applicants. The lease agreement is the legally binding contract (between the state and the beneficiary) because it stipulates the conditions of the lease to be agreed by both parties (Permanent Technical Team on Land Reform of Namibia, 2005). The agreement is prepared and signed by lessee (beneficiary) and the Minister on behalf of the state (lessor). After signing of the agreement, the beneficiaries are inducted and physically resettled on their farming units by resettlement officers of the MLR.

 
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