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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 10:21 GMT
Namibians plan white farm grabs
Namibian farm
Some 4,000 whites own much of Nambia's best land
A group of black farmers in Namibia says it will occupy 15 white-owned farms next week.

It says the government's policy of purchasing white-owned farms is moving too slowly in correcting unequal patterns of landownership.

A government spokesman said it would not tolerate any land invasions and urged landless people to be patient.

About 4,000, mostly white, commercial farmers own almost half of Namibia's arable land.

Agriculture, mostly beef exports, is Namibia's second-highest export earner after mining.

Let us be patient and follow the adopted policy of land reform
Frans Tsheehama
Nambian official

The leader of the Nambia Farm Workers Union denied that he was going to copy the land invasions in Zimbabwe, saying his group would be peaceful.

"There will be no damage to property or occupying of anybody's house," said Alfred Angula.

"We are only interested in the sharing of our motherland and its resources. We will not kill anybody, because we know war and have seen blood."

First refusal

Namibia's President Sam Nujoma is a close ally of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and last year Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab said he would increase the pressure on white farmers to sell their land.

Namibia's Government is committed to the principle of "willing buyer- willing seller" - which means no-one is forced to sell up, but if they do the state gets first refusal.

Zimbabwe also followed this principle for 17 years after independence in 1980.

A senior official in the ministry of lands, resettlement and rehabilitation, Frans Tsheehama, said the government would not allow any illegal land occupations.

"Let us be patient and follow the adopted policy of land reform. I do not see us, as a country, winning via any other route," he said.

Whites make up 6% of the Namibian population and about one third of them are descended from German settlers.


SEE ALSO:
Namibia's worried white farmers
06 Sep 02  |  Africa
Namibia's burning land issue
04 Aug 00  |  Africa
Country profile: Namibia
27 May 03  |  Country profiles


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