THE Second National Land Conference concluded last week amid the expected controversies over a number of issues.
For the second time since independence, government brought together about 800 representatives of the Namibian population to try and find lasting solutions to the burning land issue. Some boycotted but this did not stop the conference from going ahead.
Without a doubt, the second land conference saw frank presentations and debates. Disagreements were expected and they happened.
However, with these critical deliberations seemingly done and dusted, the big question remains: “What happens next?”. Will the conference wittle down to just another talk show or will we see real action towards addressing the land question?
One sticking point that emerged at the conclusion of the land conference last Friday was whether the outcomes of the conference should be termed “recommendations” or “resolutions”.
Of, course there is a huge difference between the two. Recommendations are not binding and are subject to further debate and considerations. Resolutions are binding and set parameters for authorities to implement them.
Indeed, as Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who led the second land conference deliberations said, Namibia already has laws in place that deal with land reform issues. Therefore, resolutions or recommendations made following the second land conference will have to be aligned to these laws.
Surely, we must have learned from the lessons of the first conference, where although enthusiastic “resolutions” were reached, their implementation was hamstrung by the fact that most of them were not in alignment with the existing rules and regulations. For instance, expropriation of farms could not take place without the owners challenging the move in the courts.
This time around government seems committed to address the growing land murmurs and has assured the nation that it will move to implement the outcomes of the second national land conference. It is our sincere hope that clear rules of engagement will be put in place to ensure a smooth process and also guarantee continuity in the event that heads of the relevant government organs are reshuffled or removed.
Among the key outcomes of the deliberations was the burning issue of Willing Seller-Willing Buyer, which has been scapegoated for failing the land reform process. The conference resolved to abolish it as the primary method of land acquisition, and agreed to implement the expropriation of land within the confines of the Namibian Constitution, which includes with just compensation.
The conference also resolved to develop national land valuation models to address high prices, expropriate foreign owned agricultural land, and to also subject the under-utilised commercial farms owned by Namibians to expropriation. It was also agreed to adopt the principle of ‘One Namibian-One Farm’.
These outcomes demonstrate a more commited drive to address the explosive land issue, while at the same time ensuring that the country’s productivity is not negatively impacted.
The real challenge now is to get the ball rolling by putting in place bodies or committees that ensure that the outcomes of the second land conference are implemented without delay.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015