Saturday , October 23 2021

How similar are land reforms in Namibia and South Africa? || The Southern Times



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By Ronak Gopaldas & Menzi Ndhlovu *

Although land reform has dominated South Africa's headlines, it has also emerged as a major problem in Namibia ahead of next year's national elections. The populist pressure of fear around the economic trajectory and uncertainty about how the process will be managed in Namibia has raised concerns, especially among investors.

With last year's downgrade to sub-investment levels and depressed growth forecasts, Namibia's economy remains vulnerable. Anxious investors are now enlarging two specific questions – whether the handling of the Namibian land issue has anything in common with South Africa, and whether it is appropriate for the same level of concern.

First, it is important to understand the similarities between the two countries. Both have history and segregationalist inequality is still dominated in all racial lines. Both countries have key elections in 2019 with the ruling government facing dissatisfaction around the slow pace of transformation (much of which can be attributed to their own inefficiencies rather than legislative prohibitions.)

It is in this context that the current commotion surrounding each other's land debate needs to be understood. Land policy has now failed to be launched in both countries – evidenced by land ownership statistics, which remain racially skewed.

In South Africa, according to the government's 2018 Land Audit Report, white people have 72% of agricultural land and farmland, 15% of colored people, 5% of Indians, and 4% of blacks (all individual ownership). These numbers – and indeed reports – have been questioned. Commentators say baseline measurements have been manipulated for political gain. However, this does not change the underlying idea that the distribution of individual ownership is not in harmony with the country's demographics.

Namibia is no different. According to the Namibian Land Statistics report in 2018, domestic and foreign white people own around 70% of commercial agricultural land or agricultural land.

In both countries, white people account for less than 10% of the total population. Statistics also show that although the commitment to change the nature of land ownership in both countries to better reflect population demographics, it has not been enough to change.

Land reform is not the only initiative that failed to launch, but land grabbing is at the center of segregationist policies that dominate the past of the two countries. Many ongoing socio-economic challenges can be traced to this. In both countries, the problem is less about the land itself, and more about inclusion, dignity and the need for public compensation.

Land is a lightning rod that represents dissatisfaction with the status quo, and unhappiness with a lack of economic opportunities and the economic structure of the two economies. This problem also brings political currency in every context, especially as an election approach.

However, there are important differences in how land reform has historically been in line with the discourse of the ruling party and the type of land that people want. In Namibia – like Zimbabwe – a liberation movement that is largely ethnic in nature and now in power the fighting SWAPO Party & # 39; people's war & # 39; on land.

Conversely, given the multi ethnic composition of the elitist ethnic South Africa ruling African National Congress (ANC), there is little mobilization for land-based human warfare but more for broader political and economic inclusiveness, where land is a part of it.

In South Africa, according to the government's 2018 Land Audit Report, white people have 72% of agricultural land and farmland, 15% of colored people, 5% of Indians, and 4% of blacks (all individual ownership). These numbers – and indeed reports – have been questioned. Commentators say baseline measurements have been manipulated for political gain. However, this does not change the underlying idea that the distribution of individual ownership is not in harmony with the country's demographics.

Namibia is no different. According to the Namibian Land Statistics report in 2018, domestic and foreign white people own around 70% of commercial agricultural land or agricultural land.

In both countries, white people account for less than 10% of the total population. Statistics also show that although the commitment to change the nature of land ownership in both countries to better reflect population demographics, it has not been enough to change.

Land reform is not the only initiative that failed to launch, but land grabbing is at the center of segregationist policies that dominate the past of the two countries. Many ongoing socio-economic challenges can be traced to this. In both countries, the problem is less about the land itself, and more about inclusion, dignity and the need for compensation in general.

Land is a lightning rod that represents dissatisfaction with the status quo, and unhappiness with a lack of economic opportunities and the economic structure of the two economies. This problem also brings political currency in every context, especially as an election approach.

However, there are important differences in how land reform has historically been in line with the discourse of the ruling party and the type of land that people want. In Namibia – like Zimbabwe – a liberation movement that is largely ethnic in nature and now in power the SWAPO party is fighting & # 39; warfare & # 39; on land.

Conversely, given the multi ethnic composition of the elitist ethnic South Africa ruling African National Congress (ANC), there is little mobilization for land-based human warfare but more for broader political and economic inclusiveness, where land is a part of it.

This lack of political pressure has enabled Geingob to circumvent steps of conflict such as seizure without compensation. As resolved during the October 1 land conference, Namibia will stop the principle of desire-buyer-desire-sellers who support the expropriation policy made possible by the existing constitution.

The government can also seek to redefine kompensasi only compensation tetapi, but so far it does not necessarily include rejection of compensation. Although broadcast during the conference, Namibia – unlike South Africa – did not make a firm commitment to constitutional amendments.

Although there may be differences in incentives for extreme action, such possibilities are limited in both countries by market-related considerations. In South Africa, the agricultural-dominated technical recession has made the policy of radical take-over irreversible and will send a negative message to a sluggish market.

This is probably why Ramaphosa spoke out against arbitrary land grabbing and nationalization of land. Instead, he has maintained that his government will take the approach considered which prioritizes state-owned land for redistribution.

Facing similar economic stagnation and threats related to the worsening climate for agriculture, Namibia has followed it with an approach that is considered & # 39; which seeks to minimize disruption to vital sectors, albeit with some major differences.

For one, the government has promised to pursue a policy of 'one Namibia, agriculture one & # 39; which inhibits the ownership of several farms by individuals. Also, foreigners will be banned from buying undeveloped housing land. This will not include purchases for commercial and industrial use – a testimony to Geingob's awareness of the possible reaction to a direct ban.

In both South Africa and Namibia, land reform is very important for socio-economic and political stability, but investors are worried about how it will change the country's landscape. How the two governments address investor concerns and correct historic injustices through equitable redistribution of land will be key to economic prosperity and political stability in the region.

For investors, the diagnosis of the right problem is important to ensure that they do not panic or overreact. The essence of this is an understanding of the drivers behind each country's land debate, political considerations while playing, and the significance of the historical context. – ISS

* Ronak Gopaldas, ISS Consultant and Director, Signal Risk and Menzi Ndhlovu, Signal Risk

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