Expropriation is the acquisition of land by the state for redistribution to the disadvantage community or for public use. This is a political strategy being used in Namibia to amendment colonial history of apartheid which resulted in unequal land distribution in the now independent Namibia. However, this strategy does not seem to be working as well as promised back when the country the country first gained its independence, thus now the state is expropriating land without compensation.
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This article is going to explore the reasons behind the slow pace of the expropriation process, what and who are the factors playing a role in the expropriation process and what prompted the government to expropriate without compensation. Further, the benefits and potential drawbacks of expropriation without compensation will be discussed, as well suggestions on how to address this sensitive issue. The birth of Appropriation of land without compensation After Namibia gained its independence from white colonisers, the political party, SWAPO, which took over the state started drafting the process of land reform during a national land conference in 1991 to address the unequal acquisition of land (Harring & Ondendaal, 2007, p. 2) . after some years the legislations that guide the ownership and attainment of land are the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002 and the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act of 1996.
As part of the Land Reform project, the Willing Buyer-Willing Seller( section 16 ) under the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act, deems that when a farm owner wishes to sell their farm they offer the sale to the State, if the State is not interested in purchasing the farm then they issue a certificate of waiver for the farm to be sold on open market. According to Harring and Ondandaal (2007) this process was considered “slow” in 2004, because white farmers would not sell their farms(ILMI Wolfgang) (p.2), thus in 2005 “three farms were expropriated” and later in 2007 two more farms were expropriated and the farm owners took the case to the High Court to challenge the constitution ((Harring & Ondendaal, 2007, p.2). Further, Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act of 1995 section 14 is does not have transparent language that ranks potential beneficiaries for the selection process when land is available for distribution ((Harring & Ondendaal, 2007, p.11). the purchasing land was becoming costlier for the State, in attempt to acquire more funds to purchase land from the white farmers they introduced Land Tax in 2005 (Harring & Ondendaal, 2007, p.14). However, according to Wolfgang(2015p6) a large number of farm owners placed their land for purchase, as per Willing Buyer-Willing Seller regulation the Sate was in the position to purchase at least most of these lands, given that they generate funds for purchasing land from the white owners through Land Tax, but fail to do so because they gave waivers to the land owners, because the land conditions were not favoured by the state. Moreover, in 1991 after resolutions were passed at the Land Conference, Founding President Sam Nujoma was awarded with N$468 million to contract a palace for him , which covered over 40 hectors, which was land expropriated from 50 property owners and was removed from the jurisdiction of the Windhoek municipality, in other words the state was in a cycle of solving one big problem while creating another one (Ingle, 2011, p67-68).
With these loop holes in the legislative framework of land reform and lack of appropriate implantation of the scheme, one can say that Land Reform is a political opportunistic manoeuvre to gain support from citizens during elections, and also create chances for the people in power to practice favouritism. Potential implications and conflicts of expropriation without compensation Land is a very valuable asset that is most preferred by financial institutions as a collateral for loans. Expropriation without compensation will negatively impact financial institutions that issue loans to individuals who have the land expropriated as collateral or made a loan to buy the land, thus the banks lose security to repay the loans, as the government has no obligations to the banks, and the former land owners will be in debt to the financial institutions and lose their security for shelter. Moreover, since financial institutes are profoundly invested in agriculture this can cause them long term overdrafts and a decline in the agricultural investment, this contributing to the decline of the economic growth of the country and contribute to the growth of unemployment as well. (Wolfgang,2018, para.)
The opportunism political nature of land reform, which only desires votes from the public to be in power and perform favouritism acts under cover is creating frustrations to those who with faith and hope in the promises made by political leaders, this results disillusionment amidst the social groups that are unemployed, uneducated and powerless, thus this disillusionment is used as a method of manipulation and means to opportunism to those competing in power. In parallel with Zimbabwe, the ignorance of the land issue brands it a social factor exploited by political leaders in power.(horsethemke p88)
Furthermore, as some of the employment is in the agricultural sector, when farms are expropriated without compensation, the farm owner is not the only one at lose, but the employees of the farm lose their source of income. As the country has a high percentage of unemployment rate, expropriation without compensation contributes to the increase of unemployment rate in the country as well as urbanisation in places such as Windhoek.
Urbanisation also becomes a factor, since rural areas have little development and scarce job opportunities, thus also causing the urban sprawling of informal settlements in towns and city, as well as illegal occupation (squatting camps) on private land. Moreover, the development informal settlements contribute to poor living conditions as land is not serviced and further contributing to the other factors such overcrowded schools and poor health services amongst the few issues faced with urbanisation. Who Benefits from expropriation of land without compensation As land is appropriated from the white farmers, the state has the influence to redistribute the land to the people with connections to the land, such as the ethnic groups and disadvantaged group that lost occupation of the land during colonial times, they use the land for settlement and small-scale commercial farming which includes growing crops and breeding animals. With this type of business, they are able to generate an income a few times a year, which will be successful with proper money managing skills, and still be able to support their basic needs of living such as food and clothing. ( Harrington p.24)
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