Posted on August 10, 2005

Namibian Government to Expropriate 18 Farms: Minister

AFP, Aug. 5

WINDHOEK — Namibia’s government is set to serve final notices of expropriation on 18 white commercial farmers after it failed to reach an agreement on the price of the land in the arid southern African country.

“If there is no other solution, then that is the way to go,” Lands Minister Jerry Ekandjo told AFP late Thursday.

The minister earlier told a conference of Namibian ambassadors in the capital that the government was preparing for a “court war” by serving the letters of expropriation.

“The expropriation exercise is in full swing,” Ekandjo said.

Namibia’s 3 800 white farmers own most of the arable land, an imbalance that the government has vowed to redress and which so far has been based on the willing-seller, willing-buyer principle.

The Constitution of Namibia, a country of some 1,82 million people, and its laws state that farmers will receive “fair and just compensation” when the government buys their land to resettle landless black citizens.

If a farmer does not agree to the price offered by the government, it has the right to expropriate a farm at a price which the farmer then must accept.

In May last year the government sent out a first round of letters to 15 white farm owners to “make an offer” for the sale of their land. In a second wave of notices another eight letters were served to other farmers.

Namibian law however does allow farmers still dissatisfied with the set price to take the matter to a land tribunal, but this has not yet happened.

One of the farmers who believes that he was on the list of expropriations said he would turn to the tribunal to test the value of his land.

“My investment is my farm and it is very productive, so I want a fair price. What the government offered me is too little,” said the farmer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A German national with permanent residence who bought the farm before independence in 1990, he added: “Germany and Namibia have an agreement which protects investments of German nationals in Namibia.”