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Lands empowers regional councils

27 June 2013 Author   Herman Kangootui

front lands 27 juneTHE Ministry of Lands and Resettlement has prepared a decentralisation plan that now awaits approval from Cabinet.

The plan will see some functions, especially the administration of resettlement farms, delegated to the regional councils.

The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement held a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing and regional councils in Windhoek this week to update them on the progress of the decentralisation plan.

According to the Director of Resettlement, Alfred Sikopo the plans are at an advance stage since they revived the decentralisation committee and prepared an action plan last year.

He said that the ministry had set 1 July as the date when it would delegate the functions to the regional councils, but because of the late submission of the decentralisation plan to Cabinet they had to extend that deadline.

Under the new rules, the regional councils will have responsibility for the identification of suitable resettlement candidates.

They would also provide support to communities and monitor the resettlement farms while leaving the ministry with policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the resettlement farms.

He said that the ministry would still have responsibility for the development of resettlement regulations, criteria, manuals and guidelines.

Sikopo added that other functions the ministry would decentralise include the management and administration of group resettlement projects, farm infrastructure development, maintenance and management.

He added that the provision of technical support for group resettlement projects as well as the provision of financial and technical support to the regional councils on infrastructure development would remain with the ministry.

The director noted that the regional councils would administer the leases while the ministry would give technical support.

He explained that the ministry would require regional councils to give technical support to Communal Land Boards and Traditional Authorities in communal land administration.

“The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement will also provide advisory services for land tenure system management,” he said.

The regional councils will have the responsibility for the development; coordination and monitoring of communal land projects.

In addition, they will handle land use as well as the collection of rental fees while the ministry will provide support, develop and implement national technical support programmes.

The acquisition of resettlement farms, the development of policies and regulations would remain with the ministry, while the regional councils will assess and demarcate these farms before they give them to the beneficiaries.

Sikopo said that they have also audited the ministry’s assets before handing them over to the regional councils.

They have already audited their assets in seven regions and plan to carry out the audit in the other regions in July.

The ministry will conduct a training needs assessment for all officials at the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement’s regional offices in July.

He added that the training of regional councils on the Ministry of Lands’ policies and functions would be organised immediately after the handing over of functions to the councils.