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Kauandenge suspects middlemen in land reform

THE secretary general of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), Joseph Kauandenge, yesterday said it seems some officials in the ministry of land are acting as middlemen in the land resettlement process.

The opposition politician said this after it emerged that the government spent close to N$60 million on six commercial farms for the resettlement programme.

In his address to staff on Monday, land reform minister Calle Schlettwein noted that the ministry managed to acquire six farms, with a combined size of 27 892 hectares at a cost of N$59,3 million.

However, the minister expressed shock at the amount spent, describing it as “too much”.

“Are there middlemen in this process in the ministry, where a farm can be perhaps [N$]5million, and the other [N$]5 million is divided among those responsible for making sure that the farm is bought by the government? Because it is just unrealistic to have a farm costing [N$]10 million,” he said during a press briefing in Windhoek.

The Nudo parliamentarian stressed that it is concerning that Schlettwein does not know what is happening within his ministry.

“It is disheartening that we have learnt that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has bought six farms for resettlement purposes for a whopping [N$]59 million, which translates to over [N$]10 million per farm. And the cherry on top is that the line minister came out asking how a single farm can cost [N$]10 million. Unbelievable, really,” he said.

“There is conundrum, because one has to know whether in the ministry of agriculture there is no ceiling in terms of how much the government can [spend on] farms. If the line minister can now publicly say this is excessive, is he not in charge of that ministry? Are there no yardsticks or limitations as [to how far] the government can go in terms of buying those farms? Now, if a farm has to cost [N$]10 million and you are buying six of them, what are you telling Namibians? Actually, you are saying the willing buyer, willing seller concept is a mess,” said Kauandenge.

He further criticised the resettlement programme, saying it has been hijacked and benefited people who never lost land.

“The resettlement programme is a complete mess, as those who really need land and have the expertise to till the land are not resettled. Those who have no idea to till the land are resettled, using this productive land as a status to invite friends over the weekend to boast,” he said.

Meanwhile, the opposition politician called on the ministry of agriculture to devise a new strategy to get resettlement farms into the right hands.

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