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GRN turning productive farms into squatter camps – van Rooyen

Government has been accused of turning productive farming units into squatter camps through its land redistribution and resettlement programme. Speaking at the official opening of this year’s Windhoek Industrial and Agricultural show on Thursday, Quinton van Rooyen the Managing Director of financial services group Trustco said while he acknowledges the dire need for land distribution in the country, he is yet to see a re-distributed farming unit that is productive, that has created more jobs than was destroyed, and that is sustainable so that taxes can be collected in future. He said: “Government would be wise to revisit the policy [on resettlement] to change productive farming units into squatter camps, producing nothing.” Van Rooyen said taxes collected from land tax should be used to develop land and other undeveloped communal farming areas. He also said the development and assistance given to food producers will be a better investment than investing in gold, oil and diamonds while also calling for the removal of any uncertainty that food producers are free to invest in land in the country. “We should immediately invest in the vast under developed areas, rather than purchase developed food producing units for re-settlement,” he said. Van Rooyen said Namibia has the capacity to work out a formula in which subsistence and commercial food production surpluses can be gathered, rewarded, marketed and consumed saying this will protect Namibians in time of droughts and create business opportunities. He said now is not the time for the country to start experimenting with new plans, empty promises and false praises, but is time to reward and create incentives for swift and efficient action. “Most importantly, it is time to admit our many weaknesses. With all the instability and challenges faced by our neighbouring countries, Namibia must now rise to become the most prosperous, the most democratic and fastest growing jewel in Africa. For that to be achieved, we need inspirational leaders who can conceive, motivate, lead and execute. “There is no better time to admit, that without a doubt, since independence, Namibia has a sound political and economic basis. But, if we are honest, it is time to admit that we implement and execute poorly. Entrepreneurship is strangulated by bureaucratic decisions making processes. A case in point is the Agri-bank of Namibia only announcing yesterday that interest rates to food producers are lowered. This relief is welcomed, but an earlier decision would have been much more effective for entrepreneurial food producers.”

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