Mugabe aiding Namibia land grab

Namibia has enlisted the help of Robert Mugabe's land "experts" as it intensifies its own land seizure programme. The news has further unsettled the white farmers and severely dented investor confidence in southern Africa.

Namibia has enlisted the help of Robert Mugabe's land "experts" as it intensifies its own land seizure programme. The news has further unsettled the white farmers and severely dented investor confidence in southern Africa.

Namibia's President Sam Nujoma is a staunch ally of Mr Mugabe, perhaps his only one after Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi cut off fuel supplies to Zimbabwe last year because of bad debts. Col Gaddafi called Mr Mugabe a "bad customer".

Seemingly following his hero's example, Mr Nujoma ordered eight large scale commercial farms to be seized for black resettlement last month.

He then signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr Mugabe which will see six Zimbabwean land evaluators being deployed to Windhoek tomorrow to advise on Namibia's expropriation drive.

This latest development has alarmed Namibian farmers, particularly since Zimbabwe's land reforms have been condemned by the United Nations and cited by some as the best example of how not to conduct such a programme.

"It is a big joke that any self respecting government could ever want to learn anything from Zimbabwe," said a Namibian farmer, who wished to remain anonymous. "It's hard to imagine what helpful advice we will get from Mr Mugabe's men to enhance the land reform experience here."

Namibia's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ndali-Che Kamati, was quoted by the official Herald newspaper as saying that, apart from evaluating seized farms for the purposes of paying compensation, the Zimbabwean team would also offer training services.

Mr Kamati said: "We need expertise to help us determine the level of compensation we will pay for the farms that we have acquired. In this regard, we believe Zimbabwean professionals can really help us with issues of compensation."

Zimbabwe, unlike Namibia, has refused to pay compensation for any of the land seized from farmers on the grounds that it was stolen from its rightful owners.

Zimbabwe said it would only pay compensation for such improvements as houses and boreholes, although most farmers whose land has been seized have not received a penny.

Others who had started moving their equipment off the land to stop it from being stolen or looted by government supporters were stopped by a new law that was brought in, banning the removal of equipment from seized farms.

The requirement to serve legal notices on farmers before seizures has also been rescinded, which means that an announcement in the government gazette is now sufficient for seizure to take place. The Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) says it is doing all it can to persuade President Nujoma's government to introduce just and sustainable land reforms in the country.

About 75 per cent of prime farm land in Namibia is white owned, and there is almost universal African consensus that the country, a former German colony of about 1.8 million people, needs land reform to redress imbalances created by colonial era dispossessions.

But civic groups in Namibia have warned against Zimbabwe- style methods, which have destroyed its country's agriculture and reduced it to the status of beggar nation.

However, with an election due next year, Namibia's white farmers fear that Mr Nujoma's ruling Swapo party might resort to the populist methods that have been pioneered by Mr Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Indeed, Mr Nujoma hinted this week that he might change the constitution to seek an illegal fourth term in office, just as he did in 1999 when he defied a constitutional provision on two term limits to run for an illegal third term.

He has already started building a new presidential house, said to be worth £15m, showing he plans to stick around for a while longer yet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?