Namibia is looking over to its neighbor South Africa and considering taking a similar path as the African economic powerhouse when it comes land re-distribution. Recently, South Africa has began the process of amending land ownership laws in order to re-distribute white owned land to black farmers.
Namibia, located to the West of South Africa, was a Germany colony until gaining independence in 1990. Although the white population is only estimated to be between 4-7%, 70% of the agricultural land is owned by white farmers. Black farmers only own 16% of the land.
The Namibian government had instituted the “willing-buyer, willing-seller” policy that depended on farmers willingly selling their lands over to the government which will then be re-distributed to black farmers. However, this policy was not very fruitful as most farmers were unwilling to sell and those who were willing inflated prices.
Now, President Geingob is calling for a change to the Namibian constitution to allow the government to expropriate 43% of the farm land and re-distribute it to the black majority.
“It is in all our interest, particularly the “haves”, to ensure a drastic reduction in inequality, by supporting the redistributive model required to alter our skewed economic structure, ” President Geingob said. “We should all be cognizant of the fact that this is ultimately an investment in peace.”
Unlike South Africa, Namibia is looking into land expropriation with compensation. The compensation, however, will most likely be “just compensation” not “fair compensation.”
“This comes from a common history of colonial disposition. What we also agree to is that the status quo will not be allowed to continue,” Geingob added.
Black Namibians were driven off their lands under colonization in the 19th and 20th centuries. What was reserved for them were often barren lands and even then, they were denied land ownership.