The Affirmative Repositioning movement has called on the sports ministry to get to the bottom of a dodgy land deal that saw the Newman Katuta stadium sold from under its nose.
The ministry owned the properties on the stadium, but when the Opuwo Town Council sold off the land for N$1.3 million to businessman Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba in 2013, it did so without the ministry’s knowledge or approval.
What is more, the disposal of State assets requires Treasury approval.
Now, AR wants the ministry to dispatch a delegation to Opuwo, where the construction of the ministry’s multipurpose complex has also come to a standstill.
“The AR leadership in Kunene, therefore, calls on the ministry of youth and sport to take the previously-disadvantaged inhabitants and young people in Opuwo and Kaokoland at large seriously by sending a delegation to rectify the situation within the town… The youth ministry’s building, which was set to be constructed within the region (Opuwo), has become a white elephant, as the money meant for the project was allegedly misused,” Kunene AR activist Linda Tolu wrote in a statement issued late Tuesday.
Sports minister Agnes Tjongerero was not immediately available to respond to questions regarding their building yesterday, as she was not reachable on her phone.
Katuta, the only stadium in the town, had four pavilions, two separate dressing rooms, a caretaker’s house and a netball/volleyball court.
Although no documents were signed between Shapumba and the council at the time, a deal was allegedly brokered that he would develop a shopping mall on the land where the stadium was located.
Shapumba was also expected to rebuild the existing stadium at a location identified by the council.
This never happened.
Instead, the businessman re-sold the contested land to local businessman Gerrit Schoeman for around N$5 million and moved on.
“That stadium was sold to someone [Shapumba]. That was before the time of the current council and us also here this side [ministry]. That person who bought the stadium sold it to another person,” Tjongarero said in an earlier interview on Tuesday.
She added the ministry would first have to study the sales documentation before deciding on the way forward regarding the recuperation of proceeds the town council generated from the government properties.
Meanwhile, the council has also informally been asked by the sports ministry to pay over the money it received from the sale of the facility.
The land in question is Erf 228 at the intersection of Sam Nujoma and Mbumbijazo Muharukua. It measures 3.4 hectares.
Now, without a proper sporting facility, she said young people in Opuwo are now forced to play football in the unserviced open area without toilets and water facilities.
“The situation in Opuwo is a testimony that the leaders within the town do not care about the youth within the town, as the town lacks other youth facilities. There are no sports facilities at all – and as a result, no appropriate sports activities take place within the town.”
According to the AR, the youth in Opuwo have now resorted to abusing alcohol in the absence of recreational facilities.
The movement called on the council to direct resources toward youth development initiatives as opposed to their interests.
“Sport has served as a distraction for most of the youth who are affected by the high unemployment rate. The young people of Kaokoland have been forced into alcohol as the number of bars in Opuwo continues to be the only development within the town,” Tolu charged.
At present, there are over 40 licensed liquor establishments along the three main streets of Opuwo – all falling within a three-kilometre radius.
Meanwhile, Opuwo mayor Rosa Mbinge-Tjeundo is preoccupied with finding a lasting solution.
“The stadium is gone. We must now look at ways on how we can build a new one from scratch – whether with the help of the government, the local community or investors, instead of playing the blame game,” Mbinge-Tjeundo said this week.