Land reform: Study says willing buyer, willing seller still best for Namibia

Photo credit: thor_mark  / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: thor_mark  / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The willing buyer, willing seller model was still the best for Namibia’s land reform, despite its shortcomings, according to a study released on Monday.

“It has been observed that, despite its shortcomings, the market-based land redistribution often dubbed, ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ approach is still the best tool for land redistribution,” the study found.

The “Study into land prices in Namibia” was released on Monday. It was commissioned by Namibia’s land and resettlement ministry and was conducted by Fleefort Muzyamba and Andrew Hilton, with the help of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation.

It found that since Namibia’s land reform started in 1995 and the government started buying commercial farms, prices had increased.

The government’s right to purchase land, coupled with the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS, for previously disadvantaged Namibians) had resulted in high prices being paid for many farms.

“The ultimate cause for high prices is the pressure for land by the greater majority of the Namibian people who were dispossessed of land by colonial settlers,” the study found.

It recommended that the government should purchase more land. It had declined over 400 farms offered to it for sale since 1996.

At the release of the study on Monday, Land Minister Alpheus Naruseb said a special Cabinet committee had been established to deal with land issues.

The Namibian government planned to give 15 million hectares of commercial farmland to previously disadvantaged Namibians by 2020.

About 10m hectares are to change ownership via AALS and government would acquire another five million hectares of commercial farmland for resettlement purposes.

“To date, 2.6m hectares have been bought,” Naruseb said.