The Bank of Namibia will investigate the business activities of a housing initiative of incarcerated activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and forex trader Michael Amushelelo that promises to deliver affordable housing to Windhoek’s residents.
The central bank was responding to queries regarding the legitimacy of the Property Group Save Namibia (PGSN), whose model has caused a stir in the public domain. “Property Group Save Namibia is not registered as a building society in Namibia,” the bank’s spokesperson Kazembire Zemburuka said when queried recently.
Put simply, a building society is a financial institution regulated by the Bank of Namibia and owned by its members as a mutual organisation that offers banking and related financial services, especially savings and mortgage lending.
“The Bank of Namibia will conduct an assessment to establish whether the business activities of Property Group Save Namibia contravene any law administered by the bank,” Zemburuka added.
The group is spearheaded by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement’s Nauyoma and forex trader Amushelelo.
In the public space, the PGSN business model has raised eyebrows, with some quarters questioning its legitimacy.
It promises cheaper houses and shorter repayment periods.
For instance, a one-bedroom house is priced at N$195 000. This amount is to be repaid over 10 years, at no interest rate. A 10% deposit is required.
Two and three-bedroom houses range from N$600 000 to N$800 000.
Interested individuals will buy houses directly from the property group, and not through local commercial banks.
However, at the heart of this promise is the ownership of the land on which the envisaged houses will be constructed.
According to its pamphlet, PGSN proposes to establish Brakwater Estate on Portion 60 (a portion of Portion H) of the Farm Brakwater no. 48.
“The estate will be state-of-the-art, and will employ the latest technology in estate management. It will contain ±510 erven of mostly residential nature and support land uses of businesses, institutional, public open spaces and civic use,” reads another section.
What is peculiar is that while applications for land and housing continue being dished out, PGSN is yet to make any formal application with the City of Windhoek (CoW) for bulk services, township establishment or any other land-related matters.
In essence, even if anyone buys land through the PGSN scheme, home ownership is far-fetched without the City’s blessing and services.
However, in a city where home ownership is a pipedream for many, CoW welcomes the initiative on condition it is above board.
“Our doors are open to any developer with good initiatives in land and housing. Our advice to developers and aspiring developers is to follow the law,” CoW spokesperson Harold Akwenye said on Wednesday.
He was, however, cautious to provide more information.
“We cannot comment further until such time that council receives a formal township establishment or sub-division application from the developer, which if supported will culminate in the signing of a development agreement at the conclusion of the statutory process,” said Akwenye.
He was also quick to caution Windhoek’s residents, whose thirst for land could make them vulnerable to unscrupulous schemes with questionable legitimacy.
“It is their duty to ensure before signing documents or parting with their money that they have confirmed the legitimacy of the development, and that all paperwork is in place,” he warned.
The D factor
What is more, Nauyoma’s proximity to the business dealings of Amushelelo has been received with mixed feelings by some AR top brass.
They believe the ties that bind the two could place the leftist movement’s credibility into disrepute.
A source who attended a heated meeting last year at which AR leaders were at each other’s throats, said a resolution was taken to boot Nauyoma from the movement, citing his business interests.
They, however, reneged and resolved that “for as long as his private dealings do not bring in AR’s name, it is fine; he must also make a living,” the source said.
Both Nauyoma and Amushelelo are currently awaiting trial on charges of inciting public violence and committing various offences.
Insiders also say the relationship between Nauyoma and AR’s activist-in-chief, Job Amupanda, is at an all-time low.
Both have refuted this, saying their relationship remains rock-solid.
Some say calls have been made for Amupanda and fellow Windhoek City councillor Illse Keister to vacate their municipal seats to pave the way for unemployed AR activists to make a living from the sitting fees.
When asked about his business ambitions and relationship with AR on Namibian Sun’s talk show, The Evening Review in April 2022, Nauyoma was adamant that the PGSN was part of a bigger economic struggle.
“We made a conscious decision to enter the business sphere. We are talking about genuine economic emancipation in our lifetime. How are we going to do that? It is not by being on a poster [or] by being at a protest,” he stated.
Nauyoma continued: “It is by genuinely joining the business sector and making sure that we use the leftist ideologies in a business concept to make sure that we are going to deal with those elements.”
He then dismissed claims that their initiative benefited in any way from Amupanda’s stint as Windhoek mayor.
“We never bought this land from the City of Windhoek. Never. We bought this land from private individuals who own the land… we bought this land from white people,” Nauyoma added.
He went on to say that “this land that we are selling is a concept that must liberate our people.”
According to him, they will unshackle many Namibian jaws of poverty through job creation, housing provision and allow them to “taste the fruits” of independence.
“These gimmicks [questions] about the land (sic)…when you listen to pedestrian views, they disrupt you,” he stated vaguely.
In 2018, the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia released shocking statistics that at least 995 000 people were living in shacks in urban centres countrywide.
The federation added that there were 308 informal settlements in urban areas, and about 228 000 shacks.