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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 13:40 GMT
Namibia plans white land seizures
Namibian farm
Some 4,000 whites own much of Namibia's best land
Namibia will start to forcibly take land from white farmers to give to landless blacks, the government says.

Prime minister Theo-Ben Gurirab said in a national address that land reform had to be speeded up but it would remain orderly and peaceful.

The government has so far only purchased land from farmers who wish to sell for redistribution to some 240,000 people waiting to be settled.

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

Mr Gurirab did not give details of how many farms would be seized or when the programme would start.

However, he said the farmers would be fairly compensated.

High prices blamed

Last year, some Namibian farm workers threatened to invade white-owned farms and the BBC's Frauke Jensen in Windhoek says political pressure ahead of this year's elections may have influenced the government announcement.

NAMIBIAN LAND REFORM
118 farms bought since 1990
$105m spent
37,100 people resettled
Mr Gurirab urged those waiting to be resettled to remain patient.

"The expropriation of land is being introduced to accelerate the land reform process in the country. However, the introduction does not signal the doing away with the principle of willing-buyer-willing-seller; the two interventions will actually run concurrently," he said.

He blamed the delay on arbitrary inflation of land prices and unavailability of productive land.

Since independence in 1990, the government has purchased 118 farms for $105m, resettling 37,100 individuals, according to official figures.

Namibia's President Sam Nujoma, who is a close ally of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, is due to step down from power later this year.




SEE ALSO:
Namibia braces for Nujoma exit
22 Jan 04  |  Africa
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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