Discarding shacks no election ploy: Geingob

Home National Discarding shacks no election ploy: Geingob

WINDHOEK – President Hage Geingob yesterday said declaring a state of emergency over informal settlements was no election ploy but part of fulfilling resolutions taken at the second national land conference held last year.

President Geingob is widely expected to contest for re-election as president of the country when national elections are held later this year. Yesterday he met with the leadership of the City of Windhoek to discuss the situation of informal settlements, which President Geingob declared a humanitarian crisis, initially in his year-end message to the nation.
“I have invited you following the second [national land] conference. We took some important resolutions which should be implemented. The one that affects you is the one on the situation in the informal settlement that constitute a national humanitarian crisis and that government declares as a human disaster so to say,” he said to the City leadership, which included its CEO Robert Kahimise.

“We should address that to get rid of these informal settlements,” Geingob said. 

In their conversation at State House yesterday, the City of Windhoek proposed for the development of a national urbanisation, strategy or policy to deal with the mushrooming shacks found in Windhoek’s informal settlements and have become part of the landscape.

Currently, about 40 percent of Windhoek families live in informal settlements, with majority lacking access to potable water and sanitation, resulting in the use of unhygienic water.

Many households have flying toilets (a plastic bag that used as a collection device for human faeces), unauthorised pit latrines in their backyards and makeshift showers with free-flowing wastewater.
President Geingob said there is a humanitarian crisis where people are staying in unbearable conditions, saying some are even security officers who guard politicians.

Geingob said he is informed that some shacks are owned by rich people, politicians included, who rent them out to make money out of poor individuals.

In this regard, Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua responded that while looking at the declaration of a local disaster or a humanitarian crisis, it is advisable to develop a national urbanisation strategy or policy.
He said such a strategy or policy will go a long way in ensuring orderly urbanisation.

Kazapua admitted the living conditions in Windhoek’s informal settlements are deteriorating at a fast rate. He added the rapid increase of the population coupled with un-procedural land occupation contributes to the poor living conditions of people in shacks.

He said on a yearly basis, resources are committed to improve the living conditions of residents and view these actions as foundational steps to nation building with a focus on restoring dignity.

However, he said the rate of population growth and the extent of un-procedural land occupation are so high that their efforts are reduced to a drop in the ocean.

“We view the setback as temporary and hereby appeal to central government to assist us with funding for upgrading of informal settlement and a formula for funding for local authorities especially those facing a high rate of urbanisation,” he appealed.

In terms of funding, finance minister Calle Schlettwein said the land conference resolutions need to be resourced if such resolutions carry any meaning.

He said the resolutions need to be looked collectively as a package without neglecting some at the expense of others, saying resources will not allow.
However, he said areas such as sanitation and access to potable water is where resources need to be pulled to improve service delivery to the people. 

“We are looking at how we are going to resource these resolutions. We can’t do everything at once because the resources will not allow us to do that,” he noted.

He called for strict measures to be put in place to control rapid urbanisation- without hampering people’s freedom of movement.

Kazapua said out of 400 000 people living in Windhoek, about 131 000 are in informal settlements, adding out these numbers, not all are necessary destitute or poor.

He therefore called on an audit to investigate on who are really these people living in shacks.
Attorney-General Albert Kawana suggested the City of Windhoek should register people living in informal settlements to differentiate between the rich and poor in order to address rapid urbanisation.