WINDHOEK - Government has made a bold promise to eradicate informal settlements in the country.
The situation, President Hage Geingob said in his New Year message, has been declared a humanitarian crisis.
A statement by presidential press secretary Dr Alfredo Hengari did not divulge granular details of how government intends on resolving this issue, which is sure to cost billions of dollars.
Since gaining its independence in 1990, Namibia has experienced rapid urbanisation that has resulted in the sprawling of informal settlements.
Information presented at the second national land conference in October last year showed that about 40 percent of Namibians live in informal settlements.
Local and national authorities often lack the necessary information about those communities in order to incorporate them into urban planning.
According to the latest updated statistics, there are 308 informal settlements in Namibia with a staggering 228 000 shacks accommodating about 995 000 people in urban areas.
This is a huge jump from 2008, when the country had 235 informal settlements with 135,000 shacks accommodating about 500,000 people.
According to the Shack Dwellers Federation (SDF), government and local authorities spend between N$50 000 and N$80 000 to fully service one erf, making serviced land unaffordable to the poor.
As a result, the poor set up shacks out of desperation.
“Informal settlements undermine the dignity of fellow Namibians. For that reason, government took the bold step of eradicating informal settlements by declaring the situation in these areas a humanitarian crisis,” he remarked.
President Geingob, who termed the year 2019 as a ‘year of accountability’, said his administration also took a major step towards resolving the land question, which he described as the single most contentious and emotive issue in Namibia currently.
He said despite various misgivings, which included wide-ranging boycotts by some key stakeholders, government successfully planned, organised and hosted the second national land conference in October last year.
Several resolutions were arrived at.
According to the President, this year government will commence with the implementation of resolutions taken at the conference, looking to alleviate the effects of poverty in certain areas in the south of Namibia, and giving priority to women, youth and war veterans in terms of land accessibility.
Government will also start with low-hanging fruits such as the building of a shrine at Aminius in honour of Chief Hosea Kutako.
One of the key events on the country’s political calendar is the 2019 national elections, where President Geingob is likely to seek re-election.
He called on fellow politicians to account to the electorate, whom he referred to as the ultimate sovereigns who have ceded their right to administer by bestowing that responsibility to themselves
On the issue of war veterans, Geingob said government acknowledges that there were those who fought outside the borders and there were also those who engaged in battle on the home front. All are equally important, he said.
Furthermore, the President said he anticipates the economic situation to turn for the better from this year.
The President challenged all Namibians across the board, from students to workers, and professionals in the public and private sectors, to reinvent themselves.
“It is time for us to upgrade and learn new skills. Let us become more innovative, adapt, retool and reskill ourselves to benefit from new technologies and the fourth industrial revolution. In doing so, we will stimulate growth and once the economic situation improves, we will stand ready to be competitive and leapfrog into the future,” the head of state said.
2019-01-07 09:40:25 8 months ago