White-farm land-grab set for Namibia

By Anthony C. LoBaido

SOSSOSVLEI, Namibia – Following the lead of neighboring Zimbabwe, the government of Namibia has announced a plan to confiscate white-owned farms.

President Sam Nujoma recently released a list of 192 farms to be confiscated. Among them are 99 farms owned by German nationals and another 91 owned by white South Africans. There are 350 foreign-owned farms in Namibia. The total land area covered by these 192 farms is four times the size of Luxembourg.

Namibia is a Marxist nation once part of apartheid South Africa. Its government is led by the Southwest Africa People’s Organization, or SWAPO, which was trained and funded by China in its war of liberation from white rule. Namibia was known as Southwest Africa until 1990, when the apartheid regime handed over control of the nation after a 15 year “Border War” against the Soviet Union and Cuba. Much of the land problem in Namibia stretches back to the tribal rebellions of the Nama and Herero between 1904 and 1907, which sent scores of black tribesmen out of their ancestral lands and created cheap labor for German colonial farmers.

Inklings of a campaign to confiscate white-owned Namibian farms began at the World Summit on Sustainable Development last month. It was then that Nujoma railed against the West – particularly British Prime Minister Tony Blair – and announced his endorsement of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s policy of killing white farmers and confiscating white-owned farms in that troubled nation. Nujoma blamed Blair for the trouble in Zimbabwe, saying the British leader failed to “bankroll” Mugabe’s land seizures from the “British colonialists.”

“The landless majority of our citizens are growing impatient by the day,” Nujoma told the last SWAPO congress. “If those arrogant white farmers and absentee landlords do not embrace the government’s policy of willing-buyer, willing-seller now, it will be too late tomorrow.”

Nujoma, much to the consternation of liberals in the UK, has, along with Mugabe, threatened to expel all homosexuals from his country, ban homosexual tourists and has purged the Namibian government’s broadcasting network of foreign films he believes are “corrupting” and bringing “a bad influence” on Namibia’s youth.

Kobus Dippennar, a white Afrikaner Namibian farmer from Windhoek, told WorldNetDaily that he is afraid Namibia will turn into a “living nightmare.”

“When my country, Southwest Africa, fell to the SWAPO terrorists, I mistakenly believed that the communists would learn the error of their ways and seek a just peace for all Namibians,” Dippennar said. “I was wrong. Nujoma is turning into a megalomaniac, just as Mugabe is.

“I will say this: Nujoma is right about the foreign, especially Hollywood, films. They are disgusting. What has happened to the American people? Isn’t it sad that it takes a communist or Muslim dictator to stand up to the filth coming out of Hollywood?”

Asked why the two southern African strongmen place so much emphasis on agricultural land reform, Dippennar, who fought with the South African Defense Force in the Border War as a special forces reconnaissance operator, was resolute.

“Ours is an age of industrialization and hi-tech,” he said. “Agriculture in Namibia is not a vital part of the economy. I believe the answer can be found in the fact that Nujoma and Mugabe received their political indoctrination from China. The Maoists in China were agrarian reformers. Thus they created, through the export of Maoism, the likes of Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe and now, it seems, our president, Sam Nujoma.”

Nujoma has changed the constitution of Namibia to allow himself to serve another term in office, lasting till 2004. He recently had made noise about serving beyond his already unconstitutional third term. Nujoma purged his most likely successor, former confidant Hage Geinbog, a moderate “reform minded” Cabinet minister.

When scores of black Namibian communal farmers marched against SWAPO demanding land reform, Nujoma placed the communal farmers’ leader, Gabes Shihepo, into the Cabinet as the deputy minister of information and broadcasting, thus effectively ending the communal land protests.

Obstacles to land confiscation

For now, Nujoma lacks the “secret police” apparatus and paramilitary youth militia – as Mugabe has raised up in Zimbabwe – needed to carry out his planned land seizure. His plan to disenfranchise Namibia’s “arrogant white farmers” faces other speed bumps, as well.

Since Nujoma came to power in 1990, only 7 percent of commercial farmland has been turned over to black farmers. At that rate, it will take until 2070 to get 50 percent of Namibia’s farms into black hands. Beginning in 1996, the SWAPO regime annually appropriated $2 million toward a “willing seller-winning buyer” strategy aimed at acquiring white-owned commercial farms. However, only 33 percent of those monies have actually been spent.

Nujoma has appropriated several white farms in the Otavi region for his own personal use via loans from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia.

Franz Keppler, a German tour guide working in Namibia and a retired German army officer told WorldNetDaily that Nujoma “has not been a radical land reformer because his main tribe of support, the Oshiwambos of northern Namibia, never had their land confiscated by the Afrikaners or the Germans. Rather, it was the Portuguese who took away their land in southern Angola.

“After the Portuguese sent the Oshiwambos packing out of southern Angola,” Keppler continued, “it was the German colonial soldiers who gave them food, protection and land in Namibia. Perhaps these people have a soft spot for Germans in their hearts, or at least their ancestors did.”

Another chink in the armor of Nujoma’s land-reform activity is the fact that the Herero tribe has found a political home in the Democratic Turnhale Alliance, which is SWAPO’s main opposition in the government. The DTA gets most of its financial support from rich white farmers. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the DTA carried almost 40 percent of the popular vote in Namibia.

Up to now, Nujoma’s land reform “mission” has been a dismal bust. He has complained loudly that the white farmers are out of line in asking $25 per hectare for their farmland. In 1999, out of 142 white farms put up for sale, only four were actually purchased. In 2000, more than 125 white farms were put in the market. Only 15 were purchased. As of last month, only 118 farms in total have changed hands at a total cost of just over $10 million. Another $10 million recently was appropriated by SWAPO to buy land for “landless people.”

An Internet website that lists “Namibian farms for sale” now – for obvious reasons – states, “Sorry, there are no properties available at this time.”

Yet, the largest obstacle is Namibia’s bilateral treaty with Germany (Namibia’s former colonial ruler until World War I, when South Africa, then controlled by the British Empire, took control of the territory), which will make confiscation more difficult than the blitzkrieg farm theft in Zimbabwe. This accord, called the “Protection of Investment Agreement,” was signed in 1993.

The agreement states that the SWAPO regime must offer market value to all German farmers if their lands are taken away. (When Rhodesia declared independence from the UK in the 1960s, no such agreement was set up.) Most of Namibia’s white German farmers have German passports.

As for the future, Claus Van der Mere, a German national and white Namibian farmer, told WorldNetDaily he is “fearful, hopeful yet realistic.”

“The handwriting is on the wall. One might say that if Nujoma confiscates all of the German owned farms, he will ruin the national budget. But look at Mugabe. Zimbabwe is in total ruins and nobody give a damn about any government budget,” noted Van der Mere.

Related stories:

Zimbabwe-style land grab in South Africa?

Namibia follows anti-Western track

Is ‘social justice’ attainable in Africa?