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City has zero tolerance for land grabs

2021-09-08  Maihapa Ndjavera

City has zero tolerance for land grabs

Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda has said the city now has a detailed plan to address the long-standing land and housing dilemma, and will not tolerate illegal occupation of land.

The leadership of the Windhoek municipal council held a workshop on land and housing last week to devise strategies to provide sufficient land and housing opportunities to residents and simultaneously contain informal urban expansion.

Amupanda yesterday assured journalists the council was fully committed to address the pressing needs for land and housing in a systematic, financially viable and sustainable manner.

In November 2014, then youth activist Amupanda joined fellow Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) members George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma to clear a piece of land in Windhoek’s Kleine Kuppe suburb.

With this action, they protested high rental prices and asked for a solution to the urban land and housing crisis.

Amupanda ascended to the zenith of the city council late last year when a coalition of opposition parties and his Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement trounced ruling Swapo in the local government elections with promises of solving the escalating housing crisis.

The council has set aside N$22 million for a council-funded affordable housing project to provide dignified living spaces for residents.

“The project will start this year in Goreagab Extension 4 on a small scale; the full rollout of the project will be at a piece of land, measuring 24 hectares in Cimbebasia,” said Amupanda.

Pushing for an inclusive development approach, the council-funded affordable housing project will cater for different income groups.

The first section of the project will consist about 70 housing units and will cost N$200 000 to N$350 000.

He said lack of affordable land for housing is the main cause of Namibia’s housing crisis and the continuous rapid growth of informal settlements.

“For more than 25 years, a lack of funds, inappropriate modalities to mass housing and corruption are the main reasons people in informal settlements do not have a dignified life today, and out of frustration resort to land grabbling as a gesture for the voiceless,” added Amupanda.

Land grabbing erupted in Windhoek last month, when police officers clashed with fuming residents who had illegally occupied land in Otjomuise and the Tobias Hainyeko constituency.

Furthermore, the mayor said the council has a waiting list that will be prioritised for a land allocation process on a first-come-first-serve basis and consolidate all lists into a single land application, of which details will be shared at a later stage: “Our people will have a home – free from the fear of forced eviction, a place that offers shelter, safety and the ability to secure a dignified livelihood”.

In terms of governance for improved services, bureaucracy and need for a municipal-owned company, Amupanda revealed Nova Actus Holdings and its subsidiaries will deal with land and housing development.

Within six months, the mayor said, a subsidiary under Nova Actus Holdings would submit a funding proposal to council for consideration, inclusive of insurance for low-cost housing.

He said, for the municipality to advance its services and improve its liquidity, the council is in negotiations with the central government on the swap or write-off of the historical debt, which includes interest amounting to N$700 million.

From the workshop, Amupanda added, the city aims to implement large scale land planning, with the target of creating 7 000 erven in informal settlements and 3 000 informal areas in addition to the 5 000 erven to be created through a pre-allocation intervention as put forward in Council end of August 2021. –

2021-09-08  Maihapa Ndjavera

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