Posted on July 27, 2005

NAU Protests ‘Unwilling Sale’ of Farms

Christof Maletsky, The Namibian (Windhoek), July 26

The Namibia Agricultural Union has expressed concern about the expropriation of productive commercial farms.

The NAU confirmed that Government had bought the farm Ongombo West for N$3,7 million from owner Hilde Renate Wiese, who had demanded around N$9 million because of the farm’s well-developed infrastructure.

The 4 007-hectare Ongombo West was mainly used to produce flowers for the European market, and exported around 150 000 flowers a year.

The owners were in the process of increasing the exports to 750 000 a year when a labour dispute led to the sacking, eviction and reappointment of six workers.

The NAU said the owner of Ongombo West initially agreed to offer to sell the farm after receiving a letter in which the Ministry of Lands expressed the desire to obtain the farm.

Lands Permanent Secretary Frans Tsheehama said they saw the purchase as a pure “willing-seller, willing-buyer” deal but the NAU said the view was “not necessarily shared by the owner of the farm”.

The NAU called for “just and fair compensation”, even to the “unwilling seller”.

“The process of land reform and especially expropriation must be transparent with clear criteria for the determination of farms which should be offered,” the farmers’ union said, adding that “labour matters are not to be used as criteria and should be addressed under the Labour Act”.

Government changed its approach on the willing-seller, willing-buyer policy in February last year because of the lack of available land.

Farm owners who had evicted workers were targeted and former Lands Minister and now President of Namibia Hifikepunye Pohamba said compensation would be based primarily on the market value of the land.

Expropriation is done in accordance with the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995.