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Government warns Namibia's white farmers

Misanet / The Namibian, 20 February - The Namibian government says that white commercial farmers are abusing the protection they receive when farm workers and unionists are restrained from carrying out threats to invade their farms.

Namibian Deputy Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Isak Katali, has accused "many" white farmers of failing to help the Namibian government resolve the land reform issue, and says the "writing is on the wall" for those who hide behind government protection.

In a statement sent to 'The Namibian', Mr Katali says some white commercial farmers are promoting the notion that nothing good can come from black-owned farms and that many farms bought from them by government are "in bad shape."

- The public is made to believe that, when a white farmer sells the farm, everything is white and after selling the farm everything becomes black, Mr Katali states. "White and black in this case are associated with good and bad respectively," he adds.

If every white-owned farm in Namibia had been productive, Mr Katali argues, there would have been no need to lease those farms to others.

Many white farmers lease their land to speculators who keep the animals they buy at auction on the land before reselling them. "There are or were farms [before they were sold to the government] with no single livestock of the owner but only those who were leasing," the Deputy Minister claims.

Mr Katali adds that features such as fences, boreholes, drinking troughs and dams on many farms are in bad shape but people are made to believe that things will deteriorate the very minute a black takes over. He pointedly exempted white commercial farmers who produce for the good of Namibia from his scathing attack.

About 4,000, mostly white, commercial farmers own almost half of Namibia's arable land. This result of colonial settling policies still is a root cause of social differences following racial lines in Namibia.

The Windhoek government, together with commercial farmers and black farmers' organisations, however are seeking to implement a peaceful and orderly land reform. The reform, which includes voluntary government buyouts, is also financially supported by Namibia's former colonial power, Germany.

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