Recommendations towards Fast-Tracking the Land Reform in a “Responsible” Manner

Table of Contents:

With the current pace of the process, it is evident that the target set by the government cannot be reached, and this will result in the failure of the reform in terms of outcome. Therefore, it is important to mitigate the causes hampering effectiveness and efficiency of the program, particularly as they relate to the process (which has been slowing the pace of the reform). To specifically fast-track the reform in line with the concept and praxis of responsible, this chapter suggests the following five steps.

Firstly, there is need to pair up activities which are carried out by the ministerial staff and invest in more capacity-building. The activities can be done simultaneously, provided that proper desktop study analysis and checks are done to determine the probability of the farm being suitable beforehand. For example, activities by assessor and valuers can be carried out on one field trip; this way it reduces time as well as the cost incurred by the ministry in sending out the officials on two different field trips. There is also a need to capacitate the government officials involved in the NRP implementation. The lack of the necessary equipment, instruments, knowledge, and know-how leads to slow pace of the implementation. The assessors and valuers need to be supplied with the entire necessary tools to carry out proper assessment and valuations of the farms.

Secondly, it is necessary to embrace options to purchase resettlement farming units and demand-driven approaches. The 99 years’ leasehold provides the necessary security of tenure which is the state objective, but it is restrictive in a sense that it does not grant beneficiaries participation in the open market, and therefore beneficiaries are not keen to invest in resettlement farms. The option to purchase the farming units would boost beneficiaries to invest more and be more productive, and the preferential right should then apply in this case when the beneficiary wishes to alienate their farming unit so that the land reverts to the state. The government, based on more than 24 years’ experience, should undertake a different approach to the land reform program. A demand-driven approach would enable the government to know' the market targets, determine the demand, preferences, and need of the nation, then only acquire land after ascertaining the above-mentioned. That way the government would acquire land in regions for different agricultural activities based on the need and demands of the market as determined by the farm offerors and offerees.

Thirdly, there is need to improve on information services and public awareness, and introduce regular LRAC meetings. Proper communication mechanisms should be put in place to inform the public at large in terms of the objectives and aims of the land reform program. Platforms for discussions should be open to get opinions and views of the public. The ministry should also undertake open-door policies, share newsletters, and provide information to the public, such as educating them on the provisions of the law', the role of the stakeholders, expectations of government from the different stakeholders, and so forth. This w'ay the process will be more transparent and will lead to the stability of the reform—a situation whereby stakeholders and beneficiaries w'ho are involved are free to give opinions. It creates a substantial ground to build opinions which can then be used by the ministry as a tool or instrument to improve and accelerate the process. Regular LRAC meetings are needed to reduce waiting time for farm offers. It is in these meetings that farm offers are presented. The once-a-month meetings are not sufficient to handle incoming offers, because farm offers which come in after the LRAC meeting will have to wait for the next LRAC meeting to have them discussed. This process takes too much time, with farm offers ready to be presented but the waiting periods for meetings leading to the process being prolonged.

Fourthly, introducing mechanisms to immediately and quickly allocate acquired land is crucial to fast-tracking the reform. The government needs to ensure that acquired farms are allocated immediately after acquisition. Most of the acquired farms are allocated after a very long period (sometimes years), resulting in vandalism of the property. Although the government has a strategy for maintaining the farms prior to (re)allocation, those w'ho are charged with the task of maintaining these farms are usually not experienced in farm infrastructure maintenance. The poor maintenance of acquired farms leads to dilapidation of farm infrastructure even before allocation of such land. Advertisement of farms (refer to Figure 7.4), for example, should be done when the state is busy with the process of acquiring the farm; that way the transfer beneficiaries can be allocated immediately. The government can also outsource and have a database consisting of records of people in need of land. The database can consist of all relevant applicants’ information such as areas of preference, resettlement model, requirements, and experience. When a farm is bought, it can immediately be allocated to an appropriate beneficiary based on the requirements w'ithin a click of a button. This would enable the government to cut down on the period it takes for land allocation and the use of caretakers.

Fifthly (and lastly), reducing signature bureaucracy and providing or enabling pre- and postsettlement support is crucial. Matters involving no financial or social implications, such as acknowledgment letters, can be signed off by junior government officials and do not have to wait for the senior officials to consent to them. This practice can help minimize the number of days spent on waiting for signatures from top government officials, and in a way, this would help accelerate the pace of implementation. The government should prioritize the necessary support for the beneficiaries. Training and instruments are necessary. Funding for beneficiaries should be on the government’s priority list to ensure that resettlement beneficiaries are not left to feed themselves, but supported to attain maximum productivity from the resettlement farms.

Conclusion

I believe that we should have difficult conversations, as Namibians, with the aim of finding peaceful and sustainable solutions to the challenges of inequality, landlessness and outstanding pains of genocide. If we don’t correct the wrongs of the past through appropriate policies and actions, our peace will not be sustainable ... It is true that they came and stole the land 100 years ago, but a white boy who was born on that land has Namibian blood.

The above statement (the words of Namibia’s current President Hage Geingob of Namibia) (AfricaNews, 2018), reflects the emotive nature of land reform debate in Namibia, where land reform has been a policy challenge since its political independence in 1990. It also reflects the need to conduct the process in a responsible manner. In the context of the study presented in this chapter, this implies ensuring that the reform process aligns with the 8Rs (de Vries and Chigbu, 2017). It also means that it has to be done faster to ensure that the already-disadvantaged Namibians do not fall further into the poverty.

This study not only responds to that call to make the reform responsible, it presents a responsible path to improving the reform in Namibia. It revealed the time-consuming activities in the reform process. It then recommended measures that can be taken to accelerate action for the future. Bureaucracy and poor communication also pose problems to its timely implementation. Lastly, it has shown that even the presence of a good land intervention structure may not necessarily lead to desired outcome, if the process lacks the proactive steps.

References

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Lohmann, D., Falk, T., Geissler, K., Blaum, N. and Jeltsch, F. 2014. Determinants of semi-arid rangeland management in a land reform setting in Namibia. Journal of Arid Environments, 100: 23-30.

Permanent Technical Team on Land Reform of Namibia. 2005. Report Review of Namibia's Land Reform Programme. Namibia: Ministry of Land Reform.

Sakaria, P. 2016. Redistributive land reform: towards accelerating the national resettlement programme of Namibia. Master’s thesis, Technical University of Munich.

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