Willing Seller, Willing Buyer Policy – Is It Effective? [analysis]

ALL of us know that the colonisers when they came to kill us in our country the most important thing they wanted was to take our land and its resources and turn it into their own. Those who resisted were mercilessly massacred so that they could make room for the occupiers.

Colonisers shared and divided our land and its resources, including our animals amongst themselves. In the process they made us landless and poor in our country, while they turned our land into their property and forced us to work for them as their slaves. Because of this the people of this country fought heroically to liberate themselves from this colonial occupation of their motherland. They eventually and through protracted years of the struggle which claimed many lives liberated their country and regained their freedom, independence and dignity. We are, indeed, very happy for having liberated ourselves from colonial oppression and to have put in place a democratic government under the rule of the Swapo Party. However and unfortunately this political freedom has not yet solved the problem of land redistribution in our country. Land redistribution was and still remains a serious and urgent problem in our country, although the government is trying hard to solve this problem. When we came to power the issue of ownership of properties, land included, was subjected to the provisions of the new constitution and the government in power was rendered ineffective in speeding up land reform and redistribution of the land to the anticipation and liking of the majority of the landless people of this country. A deliberate and genuine effort was made to introduce a way by which the government could fast track the process of land reform and redistribution, hence the introduction of the willing seller, willing buyer policy.

Despite this genuine effort the policy of willing seller, willing buyer has been abused by the minority, which had occupied the land during colonial times. This was done in several ways, but the most disturbing ones are the hiking of prices of the land to simply unreasonable and unacceptable levels and also to sell the land through close corporations and companies, to mention but a few. The white owners of the land who in the first place got this land from and during colonial rule and time are asking unbelievably high prices for the land in order to frustrate the process of land reform and redistribution in the country. This diabolic behaviour from those who got the land during colonial times is making it virtually impossible for the government to speed up the land reform process, let alone for the formerly oppressed black people to afford buying such land. In fact, the willing seller, willing buyer way of getting the land is rapidly becoming redundant and useless. I am afraid to say that the goals of the government to redistribute the land will never be achieved as long as those white people who got our land by benefiting in the past from the colonial dispensation and arrangements of that time continue to sell this land which was forcefully taken from the black people at such ridiculously high prices. The black people of this country have a legitimate claim to demand the restoration of their original ownership of the land, which was taken from them by force by successive colonial occupiers so that restitution of justice can take place. This process must be made in an orderly and honest manner and as fast as possible.

It might be argued that those who are now selling the land at inflated and exorbitant prices have bought the land themselves. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the land they bought was taken from the people of this country by force and they did not buy it from the original and rightful owners of the land. That notwithstanding, the process of restoring the land to the formerly oppressed people hopefully should be done and achieved in an orderly, honest and peaceful manner. This necessitates the prevalence of goodwill, honesty, justice and understanding from those who occupy the land at the present moment. This issue is sensitive and must be dealt with in a mature, honest and serious manner. Those who are occupying and owning the land they got or bought through the illegal, colonial dispensation must understand that the black people from whom this land was taken by force may, understandably so, get tired of waiting and may be forced to lose patience with the slow pace at which land reform is taking place, because of these exorbitant prices at which the land is being sold and the tricks of selling the land through companies that is now prevalent in the country. Another related issue and a sensitive one is the selling of the large Erindi estate, which is going on now. It will be unacceptable and politically and morally wrong and indeed suicidal to sell such an enormous and sizeable land to foreign nationals, while the country is struggling and is faced with the problem of land restoration and redistribution to the former rightful owners who were robbed of their land by successive colonial powers. The present occupiers and owners of that huge swathe of land, no matter how they got it in the past, must really be sensitive and understand that at one point in the history of this country there were people who were owners of that land and it was taken from them by force by the settler colonial occupiers at that given time without any monetary compensation, except for having been killed for that land. That land was taken at the expense of the blood of the black people of this country. As much as the descendants of those whose ancestors occupied and lived on that land before it was taken by force by colonialists may not necessarily be resettled on that land it will just be right, pleasing and proper that this massive land should belong and be returned to the people of this country, but not to be transferred into the hands of foreigners again. Political independence must by all means be followed by the return of the land to the people of this country, otherwise such independence will be meaningless. Therefore Erindi must never be sold to foreign nationals.

Furthermore, and to make things worse many land owners have no respect or regard to the government of the day and are behaving on their farms as if these farms are states within a state. Some workers on these farms are even prevented to participate in important national events and programmes of the country. Even government officials are in some instances either prevented or things are made difficult for them to access or enter these farms as if these farms were not in Namibia. Some of these farms are becoming and behaving like mini-states within the state and that is totally unacceptable. It is indeed a total abuse of the goodwill of this government and the democracy and peace, which is maintained by the same government which they don’t have regard and respect for. I will not be surprised if sooner or later the people will start thinking that the only solution to the land issue might be to go the Zimbabwean way and those who are precipitating this to happen with their uncalled for behaviour and disrespectfulness towards the government of the day will have to bear the blame for that. When the black landless people become frustrated and angry and impatient then the government, which is being undermined by some of the land owners have to decide which side to support and protect. Can the government support the masses of the frustrated black people or the arrogant white land owners who have no regard and respect for it? It may be time now for the parliament to seriously consider enacting legislation providing in clear terms the aancement of persons within Namibia who have been socially, economically or educationally disaantaged for many years by past discriminatory laws or practices in order to enable the government to implement policies and programmes aimed at redressing social and economic imbalances prevailing in our society in which many of our formerly oppressed people are trapped. This will be a positive development in accordance with the constitutional provision of Affirmative Action as provided therein.

People should learn not to provoke situations, which can be detrimental to the peace and tranquility that we are enjoying and which they may not be able control in this peaceful country of ours. Namibians are usually very tolerant people, but when they say enough is enough they take decisive action.

I hope that will not happen. It is true that our constitution states that, “All persons shall have the right in any part of Namibia to acquire, own and dispose of all forms of immovable and movable property and to bequeath their property to their heirs or legatees.” However, the same constitution in the same article also states that, “provided that Parliament may by legislation prohibit or regulate as it deems expedient the right to acquire property by persons who are not Namibian citizens.” Above all it is further stated in the same article that, “the State or a competent body or organ authorized by law may expropriate property in the public interest subject to the payment of just compensation, in accordance with requirements and procedures to be determined by Act of Parliament.” Just payment does not mean paying unreasonable and exorbitant prices for land, it means paying for the real value of the land. Therefore it is just logical and also high time that we legislate according this article that:

No foreigners should buy and own land in this country (under no circumstances) since the land is not ordinary property, but a basic and vital property and common heritage for which our people were killed and for which the liberation struggle was waged. It cannot be treated like any other ordinary property,

Using this article the state must have legislation in place which will make it easier for the government to expropriate the land in the interest of the public.

Once the arrogant land owners and those who behave disrespectfully towards the government and frustrate the efforts of the state get to know and realize that the state will take serious action and expropriate their land they will surely think twice and change their unacceptable attitudes. I know and believe that the Swapo government will succeed in correcting this rather worrisome problem.

If people of this country have liberated themselves from the gest colonial power on the African continent there is no doubt that they can also succeed to liberate themselves from few uncooperating and arrogant land owners, who have no respect for the government of the day.

Source : New Era