8 FEATURE Friday, March 23 2018 | NEW ERA A new land and resettlement audit highly recommended Albertina Nakale Windhoek The Namibian Resettlement Programme has widely been criticised to members of the various land boards or to those working in the Ministry of Land Reform. By definition resettlement is a process of land allocation, which aims to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of agricultural (commercial) land to previously disadvantaged landless Namibian citizens, who do not own or otherwise have the use of agricultural land or adequate agricultural land for the betterment of their livelihoods. Last year, the Land Reform Ministry spokesperson, Chrispin Matongela, revealed a for 2016 in a bid to dispel perceptions of bias and corruption in the resettlement processes. The become a bone of contention and controversy between the government and land activists and public calls for its release have been met with resistance from the ministry. Accusations and suspicions have been voiced that since the beginning of the resettlement programme, certain ethnic groups have been disproportionately favoured for resettlement across the country, at the expense of locals who remained landless. This compelled the ministry to release the 2016 list, showing that 47 individuals were resettled - from Zambezi, Kavango East and West, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto. Further, the list shows that the majority of those resettled in that period were from central and southern regions, including Kunene, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke and // Karas regions. There can be no of well-connected Namibians with tenured employment have tion. This is borne out by irregular announcements of successful Land Reform in a daily newspaper. However, the overall extent of this is not known, as aggregate The Resettlement Audit carried out at great expense in 2008-2009 across all regions, as well as the ‘Inventory of surveyed farms distributed and used for resettlement purposes in Namibia’ submitted in 2008 have Mission possible or impossible…The Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, says the acquisition and redistribution of land is the core of his ministry’s mandate. never been released to the public for scrutiny. Associate professor Land and Property Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Wolfgang Werner, is of the opinion that an informed discussion therefore severely hampered by a lack of up-to-date data. Therefore, he says a new land and resettlement audit is highly recommended as an input to the impending Second National Land Conference to facilitate informed discussion. “It is also clear that well connected people the draft resettlement criteria of 2008 in favour of the elite,” Werner notes. The proposal to exclude all those from being considered for resettlement with a combined gross income of N$ 135,000 per annum be excluded was regional governors expressed their opposition. According to him, income is not considered relevant in considering and application. He maintains this phenomenon of elite capture raises several important issues that need to be discussed at the land conference on the basis of empirical evidence. The Second National Land Conference was September but was postponed by president Hage Geingob, following calls for postponement by civil society, political parties and the public. The conference is scheduled to take place this year, although no date has yet been set. of land redistribution be? Should part-time and /or salaried people be excluded from the process, given that they may have access to capital to invest in farming and manage risks associated with farming better? Whether this is indeed taking place or remains needs to be investigated. The same applies to AALS mative Action Loan Scheme],” Werner suggests. Whichever ries goes, he says Namibia still sit with a tremendous challenge to support small-scale farmers redistribution. He states that small-scale farmers across the country – in communal areas and the resettlement sector – are struggling to make a success of their land-based activities. According to Werner, a judgement on whether the resettlement programme has failed or not, depends on one’s vantage point. The professor says what appears certain, however, is that Namibia has not achieved the socio-economic targets it set for itself, and resettlement land is sub-optimally used. He maintains that the absence of either registered land rights and lack of capital, for example, continues to bedevil this sector. Apart from improved cash indicates that small-scale farmers also require improved extension services and infrastructure to make a success of farming. Currently, support to small-scale farmers is implemented as a project managed by Agribank; but it has not yet become part and parcel of the responsibility of the relevant line ministries. Therefore, Werner feels that developing the small-scale farming sector is the responsibility of the state, not a project. Further, he adds that anecdotal evidence also suggest that governance of the entire resettlement process is weak. This, he says, includes the acquisition of freehold agricultural land – see the recent purchase of large tracts of land by a foreign billionaire east of Windhoek. “The selection of ised, but there are regular complaints that recommendations from the regions are changed in Windhoek without explanation. While the Land Reform Advisory Commission potentially serves the purpose of improving governance, it is sworn to secrecy about its deliberations. This should change. Bottomline is; weak governance structures open the way to abuse and elite capture,” Werner remarks. Equally, he says little information about the governance system of land reform is in the public domain. Therefore, suggests that it should be a topic for review and discussion at the land conference, to promote more equity and accountability. Werner says distributing access to resettlement land has been a tool for political patronage for too long, and has come at the expense of those small-scale farmers that need land and have no other income streams. The minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, says the Land Reform Programme, especially the acquisition and redistribution of land is part of their core mandate. Therefore, during - farms measuring 42.893.6149 hectares were acquired. These farms were acquired at a total cost of N8,155,066.19. Another two farms with a combined extent of 6,250.6810 are pending purchase at a cost of N,926,275.56. Under the resettlement programme, Nujoma says the ministry resettled 26 farmers, 14 males and 12 females. He, however, admits that these numbers fall short of the demand for land, and keeps escalating. Investment in infrastructural is crucial to development, especially in the communal areas where the majority of the population resides. Nujoma says the impact of the current collaborative efforts to enhance livelihoods for a better future under the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD) are bearing fruits explaining that under this programme, that is jointly supported through technical European Union (EU), the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Namibia, substantial socio-economic investments are being provided to farmers in communal areas. This is through the development of core infrastructures that are geared towards capacity building and the commercialisation of the farmers’ activities. In this respect, Nujoma reveals that 286,000 hectares of land has been developed with 857 km of fencing, 20 multi-purpose kraals constructed, 30 new boreholes drilled, 35 boreholes rehabilitated, and 98 kilometers of water pipelines installed in the regions of Kavango East, Kavango West, Ohangwena, Omusati and Zambezi. This infrastructural development, he ing households, thus bringing communities in touch with real ment in other regions such as Otjozondjupa and Omaheke is expected to commence in the Nujoma maintains that tenure reform to enhance security in communal areas through the registration of land rights is ongoing. In this respect 177,593 communal land rights were mapped and digitized, representing 90 percent out of the 196,000 communal land rights nationally that can be registered. A total of 116,220 customary land rights have been registered, presenting 65 percent of the communal land rights currently digitized and countrywide. Upon completion, Nujoma says this programme will improve the livelihoods of over 500,000 Namibian citizens.
Friday, March 23 2018| NEW ERA 9 Toivo Ndjebela Aochamub – From State House to Namibia Airports Company Former press secretary for the Namibian Presidency, Albertus Aochamub, chats to Managing Editor Toivo Ndjebela about the transition from his old cushy job to taking over as acting CEO of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC), which is often embroiled in controversies. Toivo Ndjebela (TN): How did your appointment as CEO (acting) of NAC come about? Albertus Aochamub (AA): Since the last substantive CEO was suspended, the company had two different acting CEOs. The board started discussions to bring someone from outside the system. The conversation took place and I was made available. Part of my appointment is to allow the board enough time to appoint a substantive person and secondly there are urgent priorities in the Harambee Prosperity Plan that preferably must be implemented in 2018. With all these speculations that I was pushed, I was chased and that people expected me to leave the presidency in 2016 already, people paint the President [Hage Geingob] as a monster administrator. Those of us who worked with him know he’s one of the best administrators the country has had. He’s one of the presidents who were ready for this assignment because he has paid his school fees and has gone through the apprenticeship for over 30 years, including in the UN systems. TN: Speaking of speculation, there are talks that the fact that your permanent job in the presidency has been taken over by Dr Alfredo Hengari year contract at NAC and that the whole ‘acting’ rhetoric is a smokescreen. What’s your comment? AA: That’s not the contract I signed. This is a country of laws. When I was approached to come was still on me. This is a country my youth in the struggle through a structure such as the Swapo youth league to only become despondent at my current age. As such, I’m never too worried about where my family’s shelter will come from, whether we’ll eat or whether my children will still attend school. The problem with our people is that they often want others to do things for them. We have to take full control of our own destinies. I’m guaranteed income for the next 11 months and that’s a long time to work out something for myself. TN: What are your best memories in the presidency? In the fullness of time, I’d like to write about my time in the presidency as advisor working behind the scene. The most exciting thing was the belief of the leader that transparency, openness, trust and accountability are key in the political system. When someone says that and lives it, and you’re part and parcel of the machinery that gives substance to that, it is humbling. Also, the whole process of the formulation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, where the President was personally involved from conceptualisation, proofreading from approval, was a huge learning curve for me. He sat in town hall meetings, sometimes up to six hours, listening attentively to people’s issues. It’s a very demanding environment. If one is not careful, they could accumulate lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, gout and so forth. Such is how demanding that environment is. TN: As press secretary, you had an eagle’s eye view of the country’s media industry, having closely worked with it? AA: It’s a mixed bunch. In full defence and appreciation of the Namibian media for the role that they continue to play in the entrenchment of basic rights and democracy, they are doing a commendable job. It’s because of actors in that space that we are ranked so highly in terms of media freedom. But also, there’s great need for further skills acquisition. Inexperience is evident in the work of some journalists, especially facts. Of course, the salaries and conditions of work are not very good and this drives the good journalists into corporate space as PROs, etc. But I’d like to see more journalists developing themselves and becoming subject experts in their respective beats. There’s so much obsession with government and politicians so much that the private sector is often left Albertus Aochamub unscrutinised, yet there’s so much happening there too. But all in all, we have a good media industry. impressions of the NAC when you took over a month ago? AA: I have seen many organisations in ICU, and NAC isn’t one of them. The company’s policies and procedures are incredibly impressive. There are pockets of good men and women here too. I think what has been lacking is leadership. The greatest opportunity here is to be able airport of global standards. It’s a good problem to have. The current airport was built as a temporary structure in 1985, with a capacity to handle 250 people per annum. It now handles nearly one million people per annum, a far cry from the original capacity. We now have three major global airlines who yet we already have congestion there [at Hosea Kutako]. What needs to be done now is to expand the current physical structure and deal with security issues at the airport. Secondly, we need to manage the landing slots better for these various airlines. The problem currently is that all airlines arrive almost at the same time then you have quiet periods throughout the day. We must build a new terminal and expand the airport. It’s a mustdo because demand will not dwindle. All indicators are currently on the upswing. There are concerns about how some of the contracts were entered but this must be solved within the foreseeable feature. TN: A lot of your employees, some of them executives, are on suspension. How are you handling this worrying situation? AA: There’s an opportunity to bring those colleagues back. We need to treat them with dignity because they are not criminals and are innocent until they are proven guilty. In the coming weeks, we’ll be dealing with this expeditiously. TN: What’s the status of the plans to expand the Hosea Kutako International Airport and what funding models is NAC contemplating? AA: The best option right now is a PPP. We’re working on something that we’ll submit to the board soon, which will give it to Cabinet for deliberation. The World Bank is convinced this is a good model and there’s enough appetite for it. The straightforward option is for the government to take a loan to fund the project. Both options require us to prepare detailed designs, costing and scoping of the project. That’s already underway. Cabinet just needs to give us direction on the way forward. The company’s priorities for this year are very clear. We’ve had a lot of offers so far, but it is up to us to ensure that nobody takes us for a ride and that we do not mortgage the future generations with unnecessary debt burdens. TN: The Eros Airport is in such a bad state that the President was advised to stop using it for safety reasons. What exactly is happening there? AA: The runway at Eros airport, just like at Mpacha, has problems. These are facilities from the 1960s. A lot of work has gone into designing new runways and rehabilitate the current ones. The runway at Eros is just OK, but is not by any stretch compliant with the best prescriptions of a runway. So, that airport is also a priority. If all Air Namibia were to handle travellers, especially corporate travellers. TN: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) expressed concern about the Hosea Kutako International Airport and threatened to downgrade it recently. Have the ICAO’s concerns been solved yet? AA: All concerns raised by ICAO are related to the way the airport is at the moment. Look at the two screening points, they cause too much congestion. The congestion at the checking points is also massive and these are the things that concern ICAO. We are attending to this through other alternatives. We voluntarily conducted a security audit, which showed us where we stand. A safety audit was also conducted just recently. ICAO will come back for the major audit maybe later this year and we hope to be able to answer all the critical questions. However, the bottom line is that with the current handles, there’s simply structural problems that will hamper our full compliance. What we don’t want is our airport to be the weakest link in the global aviation community. Airports using our airport could be blacklisted in Europe and elsewhere. No airline would allow itself to lose business because of a small airport such as ours. They’ll simply dump us, and this would have serious economic implications for the country. TN: What happened to the airport apron shuttles/buses that were acquired to the tune of nearly N million but are allegedly standing idle without use? AA: The long and short of it is that, yes, it’s true the buses are parked. The intention of acquiring them was honourable. Last weekend passengers couldn’t be transported from the terminal building to the airplane. This also impacts safety and security at the airport. I haven’t been fully briefed on why the buses are not activated but I have a sense of it. Activating them is not an insurmountable task and we’re attending to it.