Top public officials among resettlement beneficiaries

Top public officials among resettlement beneficiaries

KUZEEKO TJITEMISA
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Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) Chief Executive Officer, Franz Gertze, and former Director for Regional Programme Implementation at the Ministry of Land Reform, Alfred Sikopo, are the latest beneficiaries of the government land resettlement programme.

Sikopo, who is now a consultant at the Ministry of Land Reform, was allocated farm Nakop No.68 in the //Kharas Region measuring 7 337.8214 hectares, while Gertze was allocated farm Kotzetal No. 291 in the same region measuring 4 669.000 ha.

Their allocation revives the debate whether well-paid civil servants and top executives ought to compete for resettlement land with the rest of the Namibians, who do not qualify for financing of commercial land.
“Tell me who doesn’t want to be resettled? Everyone, including yourself, wants to be resettled,” said Gertze when approached for comment.

He shot down the perception by the general public that only those with “money” or in top government positions are being resettled saying that he submitted his application as a landless Namibian and he believes that his application was considered as such.

Gertze told New Era Weekend that he and his family are delighted to have been finally resettled.
He says for several years he and his wife had been applying for resettlement without success.

He said he is receiving calls asking how he was resettled but his answer is simple: “apply…apply…apply”.
Sikopo said farms were advertised and he applied just like any other landless Namibians.

Government last week maintained that there is nothing wrong in resettling ‘well off’ or ‘high [-ranking] government’ officials, as they are also Namibians.

Land Reform Ministry spokesperson, Chrispin Matongela, denied the public claims that resettlement farms only benefit the elite and individuals linked to employees in the ministry, saying that farms are available for all Namibian applicants.

“When we are selecting beneficiaries, we don’t say you are a minister, director or a lawyer. In fact, we don’t check people’s bank accounts.

All we look at is that you are Namibian and you meet the required qualifying criteria,” Matongela said.
Gertze and Sikopo’s resettlement follows last month’s confirmation that the deputy director of land reform in //Karas Region, Albertus Engelbrecht, and Omaheke Governor Festus Ueitele’s wife, Uapeua, also benefited from government-owned farms.

Engelbrecht got 5 422 ha on Farm Nunniboom in the Hardap Region, whereas Ueitele was resettled on 2 003 ha on Farm Bospoort in the Omaheke Region.

Meanwhile, about 20 farmers last month moved their livestock into Farm Dickbusch, a government farm situated 45 kilometres west of Aroab in the //Kharas region claiming that resettlement farms only benefit the elite and individuals linked to government high-ranking officials.

The group also wrote to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), requesting the commission to investigate all recommendations by the //Kharas land resettlement committee from 2007 to this year.

In the letter – seen by New Era – the group asks the ACC to investigate whether the recommended beneficiaries are related to committee members and whether there is any conflict of interest.

The group also wrote to the Office of the President seeking intervention in the matter, noting that their pleas to be resettled have over the past 20 years fallen on deaf ears.

Over the years, scores of high-ranking government officials have also benefitted from the government resettlement programme, among others, former Land Reform Ministry permanent secretary and now deputy minister of Justice, Lidwina Shapwa and Land Reform Ministry director, Petrus Nangolo.

Criteria for resettlement are that one should be a previously disadvantaged Namibian over the age of 18.
Applicants should also have no more than 150 large or 800 small livestock. Eligible persons may also not own any land other than for residential purposes.

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