Namibia follows South Africa with pledge to expropriate white-owned land
Namibian President Hage Geingob has called for a change to the constitution to allow the government to expropriate land from white citizens and redistribute it to the majority black population.
“Many Namibians were driven off their productive land,” Geingob said during his opening speech at a national land policy conference in the capital Windhoek.
According to him, the “willing-buyer willing-seller principle has not delivered results.” Under the practice the land owner must first offer the government an option to buy the farmland. The government can then buy the land and redistribute it.
Geingob said that careful consideration should be given to expropriation, stressing that “the fundamental issue is the inequality...”
He also pointed to similar proposals made by South Africa’s government, claiming “We also share a burning land issue and a racialized distribution of land resources with South Africa.”
“This comes from a common history of colonial dispossession. What we also agree to is that the status quo will not be allowed to continue.”
Political parties and NGOs have criticized the government's attempts to change land reform measures. The conference has been boycotted by some civil society organizations and political parties for allegedly having predetermined outcomes.
According to AFP news agency, two former presidents of Namibia, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, said the government should only pay “for things like equipment on the farm and not the land.”
The Namibian government plans to transfer nearly half of its arable agricultural land, about 15 million hectares (58,000 square miles), to disadvantaged black citizens. Statistics from the Namibia Agriculture Union showed that 27 percent of land had been redistributed by the end of 2015.
Thousands of black Namibians were driven off their land during Germany's colonization of Namibia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of them were either killed or forced to resettle in barren areas.
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