Dilution of proposed amendments to Namibian land laws likely amid constitutional debate, but with foreign purchase restrictions
Namibia's urban and rural development minister, Sophia Shaningwa, has presented proposed amendments to the Local Authorities Bill, which is also aimed at restricting foreign land acquisitions, the local The Namibian newspaper reported on 6 November. Under legislative proposals, within so-called open zones locals are given preference in acquiring property, while foreigners are only able to purchase land for dwelling, with permission.
Within reserved zones, only locals will be permitted to purchase land, and only in areas commensurate to income categories. Foreigners will be limited to leasing commercial property. In both zones, before permission is sought to sell to another foreigner, any foreign-owned property must be offered to the local authority first, then a local, and then the state.
Business entities wishing to purchase land will need to be majority local-owned. These proposals are set to be debated by parliament's upper house the National Council, with Namibia's government facing rising grievances over the slow pace of land reform as well as shortages of urban serviced land and housing. While such grievances will increase pressure on the government to speed up programmes such as the “willing buyer willing seller” model used for example for agricultural land, expropriation without compensation remains very unlikely.
(Source: Africa business in brief)