Stakeholder Approach for Land Reform Programme to Enhance Access and Equity

Stakeholder Approach for Land Reform Programme to Enhance Access and Equity

Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.2021040103
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Globally, the land is a valuable resource. Many years of colonialism resulted in the majority of the population having no access to agricultural land especially in many African countries, and Namibia is no exception. Today, land access and equity are burning issues. Hence, adopting a qualitative research approach and data collection with a non-random purposive sample of 60 respondents' through questionnaires, interviews, and secondary data to investigate how the stakeholder approach can facilitate the effective implementation of the land reform program to enhance access and equity in Namibia. The paper examines challenges faced in implementing the land reform program, determine the level of stakeholder participation, and develop strategies based on the stakeholder approach for improved implementation of the land reform program. Findings reflect that stakeholders felt that the government is not consulting them enough and that is the reason why the land reform process has failed to enhance access and equity and is lacks the pace to the detriment of the landless majority.
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The land possession problem in Africa has remained a delicate matter for the last 20 years and Namibia is not an exception. Since independence, Namibian citizens are getting more agitated about land unavailability because the biggest chunk of the population looks upon the land for subsistence (Mendelsohn, 2006). The failure to create a source of livelihood in rural areas where the citizens are mainly dependent on agriculture is an indication that there is a failure in land reforms. The problem of land ownership emanates from the pre-independence government policies that skewed in favor of the minority at the expense of the majority population in Namibia (Harring & Odendaal, 2007). Worldwide, there is no doubt that land is an important resource that raises emotions to both the ones who have it and the ones that do not have it. In all African countries, fair land allocation through appropriate land reform programs remains crucial (Alagiah, 2008). Similarly so in Namibia due to years of colonialism and apartheid have given rise to only a minority of people having access to land while the majority did not have access to productive land. This scenario of land ownership created a situation that promoted not only abuse and labor exploitation but also an increase in poverty for both rural and urban communities (Government of Namibia, 1991; Werner & Kruger, 2007). Nevertheless, the biggest challenge that is facing the government is the failure to adopt the best practices that can address the skewed productive land ownership in Namibia.

Land reform has been topical in countries where settlers came, defeated the indigenous people, and violently possessed their belongings including land. To date, there has been no agreement on the standard policy in land reform processes or correcting the past injustices in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), let alone Africa as a continent (Alagiah, 2008). Due to that challenge, there is no proper coordination of land reform policies even after all the countries have gained independence (Herbst, 2000). Hence, in countries that have experienced colonialism, land reform initiatives are essential to enhance access and equity. However, the land reform program in the region has been characterized by contradictions coming from both colonial and after independence governments. The land reform program in the region follows a “Willing Seller Willing Buyer (WSWB) principle” which dictates that commercial landowners offer their land for sale to the government willingly, they are protected by the constitution through property rights, and the government acquires their land willingly without force. This approach has become a highly accepted land acquisition policy for resettlement purposes (Chigbu, Sakaria, De Vries & Masum, 2017). The land is an important asset that is essential for the growth of the economy and development and its sustainability is very important (Baporikar, 2016). Countries like Namibia among others embarked on a land reform program to address imbalances of land ownership as a poverty reduction mechanism through empowering the indigenous people (Mafa, Gudhlanga, Manyeruke, Matavire, & Mpofu, 2015). The land reform program aims to redistribute land presently owned by the previously advantaged minority to the majority of Namibians, especially those marginalized and disadvantaged (Government of Namibia, 1991). Yet, even after 28 years of independence, there is still a lack of success in this and even the government agrees that the land reform process has not been very successful. The concern is social and academic, as shown by the highest attention that the land ownership captures in the media.

Therefore, it is important to note that the government faces the dilemma to satisfy all stakeholders about the land reform process. The overall perception is that land reform merely aims at poverty reduction; however, it is not so as the land reform program also needs to address the errors in land ownership imbalances to ensure access and equity in the wealth distribution for all citizens.

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