Maintain and improve property rights: Uanguta

02 Oct 2018 19:40pm
WINDHOEK, 02 OCT (NAMPA) – At a time when masses are calling for the expropriation of land without compensation, Bank of Namibia Deputy Governor Ebson Uanguta called on Government to maintain and enforce property rights as embedded in Article 16 of the Namibian Constitution.
Under the property rights clause, the Constitution guarantees all persons the right to acquire, own and dispose of all forms of property throughout Namibia.
Uanguta warned that no one would be willing to commit investment in an enterprise where property rights are not secured.
He made these remarks when he delivered a statement at the second National Land Conference on Tuesday.
Uanguta cautioned that there would be no market in the absence of clearly defined property rights.
“Without clearly defined property rights, contracts will not be enforced and it would be extremely difficult to plan for the future,” he said, adding that the “less secure property rights are, the poorer the economy gets”.
“There is ample empirical evidence that shows that an absence of clear property rights or secure land tenure inhibits investment, economic activities and growth,” Uanguta said.
He suggested to the about 800 delegates that problems of those who were disposed of their land should be addressed within the parameters of the Constitution.
Such provisions are contained in Article 16 of the Constitution which gives power to the State to expropriate property in the public interest subject to payment of just compensation, Uanguta explained.
The property rights clause has been blamed for Namibia’s skewed land reform structure, which has the majority of arable land in the hands of a few previously advantaged Namibians.
Official statistics by the Namibia Statistics Agency show that previously advantaged people, including non-Namibians, own 70 per cent of private freehold land.
On Monday, former Namibian presidents, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba both called for the urgent amendment of the Constitution, particularly Article 16 to give Government power to accelerate land reform.
This, according to Nujoma, can be done through a national referendum on enshrined property rights.
“We need, as Namibians, to unite and work together and adopt severe, comprehensive and sustainable agrarian land reform to address the massive imbalances of land ownership in Namibia,” he said.
Furthermore, Uanguta’s call comes at a time when Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma has been on record as saying the property rights clause is one of the compromises that Namibian leaders made in the run-up to the country’s independence.
This, he attributed to pressure from the Western Contact Group who had an interest to protect property rights.
On the contrary, prominent lawyer Sisa Namandje at the same conference said there was no way that Chapter 3 [Fundamental Human Rights] of the Constitution can be amended to accommodate expropriation of land without compensation and limiting property rights.
Chapter 3 of the Constitution is not amendable, making property rights untouchable.