Hanse-Himarwa Questions Resettlement Scores

EDUCATION minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said the current criteria used to select beneficiaries of resettlement farms is not serving the landless Namibians.

Hanse-Himarwa’s comments come a few weeks after The Namibian reported that her 24-year-old son got a farm in Hardap region, under controversial circumstances.

The minister specifically questioned the scoring system which the government uses to rate applicants for resettlement.

“The resettlement criteria are not serving the landless Namibians. The criteria have not brought benefits in my eleven years at Hardap,” she said in the National Assembly during the budget debate on the allocation for the ministry of land reform on Tuesday night.

The criteria says that if an applicant is female, she scores five points, while a male gets zero points. It also says that if an applicant is aged below 25 years, they get two points and those above 26 are awarded five points. Furthermore, an applicant with some form of farming experience scores higher than one who is a newcomer to the sector.

Sources said Hanse-Himarwa’s son got a farm despite losing to a woman who also wanted the same farm during the selection process.

Hanse-Himarwa said citizens who want to be resettled are sometimes forced to fake documents or use other people’s documents in order to score high in the selection process, a deed she says deprives deserving Namibians of land.

The former Hardap governor also criticised land reform officials who take bribes to aance the interest of some applicants.

“Some people are paying officials to twist points,” she said.

Hanse-Himarwa’s son, Denzil, an information technology graduate, got a portion of farm Uhlenhorst when his mother was still governor and chairperson of the regional resettlement committee.

Some top Hardap land officials expressed concern about the manner in which the land was allocated to Denzil.

Former Kavango governor Sebastian Karupu, who is now a Swapo backbencher, also commented on the land budget in general.

Karupu warned that the government should not solely focus on the issue of municipal land while the other vast tracts of land across the country remain in the hands of a few Namibians and foreigners.

Land reform minister Utoni Nujoma said the government is looking at several laws that could be tightened to ensure that loopholes being used by individuals and companies in land deals are closed. Nujoma admitted that it has become a fashion trend to own a farm. He also said that acquiring a farm and repaying the loan has become impossible because of the prices the farms are being sold for.

The former justice minister insisted that resettlement farms should be productive and should not be areas where people are placed to depend on the state for survival.

He said the government is still working on the issue of land through a Cabinet approved committee chaired by deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Nujoma also cautioned fellow leaders from demanding ancestral land saying it will be a disaster and they should instead promote reconciliation among Namibians.

Speaker Loide Kasingo asked whether the government will buy farms close to urban areas such as Windhoek to give to the municipalities to address the land shortage.

She warned that she foresees problems, especially from young people who want land.

Nujoma agreed that there is a need for the government to be pro-active in buying land close to the boundaries of municipalities in order to avoid buying the same land years later at high prices.

Source : The Namibian