Some historical facts leading to the founding of LOAN
In 1991, a year after independence, the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) convened a conference on land ownership in Windhoek. All stakeholders were invited to be part of this historic occasion. The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) also attended this conference. Part of the conclusion of the conference was that land is a natural resource and the government of Namibia should hold ownership of all the land in Namibia. Land tax should be introduced to commercial land to generate revenue from the wealthier section of commercial farmers. This action can promote the conversion of land to the State.
In 1995 the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995 was passed in parliament.
In the year 1999, a number of foreign landowners received expropriation letters from the Government. Some of them were members of the NAU and requested assistance from the union. The NAU notified the affected members that it (the NAU) was not legally in a position to act on their behalf and preferred to negotiate for the majority of their members. This led to the notorious Kessel case" where these foreign landowners retained their property rights and where the High Court of Namibia set aside the expropriation actions of Goverment.
Land tax was introduced during 2004. Some landowners objected and argued that the tax was unconstitutional and discriminatory. This led to the NAU embarking on roadshows throughout the country. The NAU president at the time, Mr. Jan De Wet, urged the farmers to trust the NAU in its negotiations with Government and explained that the NAU accepted the land tax imposition on the condition that it is:
During the second half of 2012, Government announced the new Land Tax Valuation Roll.
Tax values were adjusted upwards from between 400% to a 1000%. This created an outcry from commercial land owners. During the NAU congress of 2012, it was again made clear that the NAU had no legal right to represent its members in a court of law. It should merely negotiate on behalf of its members with the Government, in providing factual data and try to reason for a fair dispensation. However, legislation did make provision for objections to be lodged and the valuation court date was set for December of 2012 to hear all such objections.
During the aforementioned NAU congress proceedings, the farmer-representatives of Otjiwarongo, Kalkfeld and Outjo, decided to collectively contract the law firm, Van Der Westhuizen and Greeff, to represent its members and object to the increased land tax. The farmers' associations rendered merely a coordinating role. Similar actions were in instigated all over the country, with farmers' associations coordinating between their members and law firms. At a meeting in Otjiwarongo on 16 October 2012, that was called by above-mentioned joint initiative, a launching committee which was tasked to:
On instructions received from approximately 600 land owners, objections were lodged against the increased Land Tax and the legal team proceeded to launch an application at the High Court of Namibia (the test case"). The Valuation Court was declared null and void by the High Court of Namibia and the somewhat 2700 cases of the objectors was consolidated into one test case, LOAN decided to support this one case and the N$1 per hectare paid to above mentioned law firm was converted to an entrance fee by choice of incoming LOAN members.