Namibia's land reform process tested in court

25th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 July 2007, Windhoek, Namibia (dpa) - Namibia's land reform process is being tested in court with a case in which three German nationals opposing a government order for the expropriation of the land they own in the southern African country, which they argue was a mere "rubber- stamped" decision. Gunter Kessl, who owns the farms Gross Ozombutu and Okozongutu- West, Martin Josef Riedmaier, the owner of the farm Welgelegen and Adolf Herburger, a shareholder in the Heimarterde Closed Corporation, were among

25 July 2007

Windhoek, Namibia (dpa) - Namibia's land reform process is being tested in court with a case in which three German nationals opposing a government order for the expropriation of the land they own in the southern African country, which they argue was a mere "rubber- stamped" decision.

Gunter Kessl, who owns the farms Gross Ozombutu and Okozongutu- West, Martin Josef Riedmaier, the owner of the farm Welgelegen and Adolf Herburger, a shareholder in the Heimarterde Closed Corporation, were among 26 farmers served with letters in May 2004 requesting them to offer their sale to government or face expropriation.

The case came before the Windhoek High Court on Tuesday, with the three seeking to have the expropriation orders set aside on the grounds that the government had failed to adhere to the correct procedures or act in accordance with the law.

Their advocate, Adrian de Bourbon told the court that the process used by the then minister of lands in reaching the decision to expropriate had been "so fatally flawed in terms of administrative law" that the expropriation orders needed to be set aside.

"Adherence to the law and the constitution is a necessary ingredient of the constitutional democracy that exists in Namibia," he argued, submitting that "decisions made were in each case made outside the parametres of the law."

The applicants argue that instead of a decision to expropriate their farms having been taken after research and inspection of the farms regarding their potential for resettlement, and in consultation as required by the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995, the minister of lands and the Land Reform Advisory Commission had merely "rubber-stamped" a random decision by cabinet and thus failed to act in accordance with the law.

Despite fears that Namibia's land reform process could turn ugly and see Zimbabwe-style land invasions following the introduction of expropriation against compensation, Namibia's government has maintained it will stick to the law and safeguard peace and stability in its land reform process.

Since the first letters were served on May 10, 2004 only a handful of farms have effectively been expropriated and the estimated 4,500 commercial farmers - about a third being of German descent - have been able to continue production unhindered.

At the end of 2005 Ongombo West, the farm which had made headlines on the grounds of labour unrest, was sold to the state by its owner Hilde Wiese for compensation of 3.7 million Namibia dollars (about 540,000 US dollars).

Both women are Namibian citizens.

The farms Marburg and Okorusu of Heidi Lacheiner-Kuhn were exproriated in 2006. At the beginning of this year the farms Wyoming and Kansas, owned by Klaus Schindler - a German national with permanent resident in Namibia - were expropriated against compensation.

The government of the former German colony that was later administered by apartheid-era South Africa before independence in 1990, aims to buy up about 15 million hectares of the current 36 million hectares of commercial farmland in the next 13 years and hopes to resettle 27,000 disadvantaged Namibian families.

DPA

Subject: German news 

 

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