Following the demolition of about 50 shacks in the Tobias Hainyeko constituency on Wednesday, Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda has convened a special council meeting for 5 August to resolve the city’s housing challenges.
He announced the indaba yesterday at a media briefing, adding that the “horrifying” events happened without his knowledge or the deputy mayor and the chairperson of the management committee, hence were not sanctioned by the political leadership.
Amupanda apologised to residents who were left out in the cold, but also castigated his fellow councillors and political detractors.
“To an extent that individual councillors may have been aware (as some suspect) of the intended events, such events were not sanctioned by council. Although I was not aware, I take responsibility for the pain and suffering caused to the residents in the name of council. On behalf of council, I apologise to the residents for the recklessness and irresponsible events that took place yesterday,” he added.
Amupanda, who came to prominence through land and youth activism, said the large-scale demolition of homes will no longer occur without council’s knowledge, while formal written communication will be provided to the acting CEO and the head of City Police.
The mayor, who was voted into office when a coalition of former opposition parties and his Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement ousted Swapo in last year’s local authority elections, urged residents to closely monitor the discussions at the special council meeting, and to see what happens to proposals meant to solve challenges.
In an interview with New Era recently, he admitted that all is not well within the city’s governing coalition.
The 5 August indaba will discuss a relocation centre to decongest informal settlements; controlled entry into the informal settlements; a city-owned township development; an affordable housing policy; the municipality’s waiting list; the municipality’s satellite offices in informal settlements; and a rollout plan for informal settlements’ upgrading.
“I do not doubt that those opposed to our activities and programmes will continue with their underhanded tactics. I must thus make it clear that should the measures to solve the residents’ problems be approved by the special council and similar incidents continue, we will no longer respond to what the authorities do,” he emphasised.
He further urged residents to analyse the events beyond what appears to the naked eye. “It is evident that there are specific politicians whose plan and preoccupation is to isolate and individualise.
With a small cabal of associates, they seek to make the issue of landlessness about Amupanda, as if Amupanda has executive powers to make unilateral policy decisions. It is thus no surprise that one repeatedly reads, ‘Honeymoon is over for Amupanda’ and ‘Pressure mounts for Amupanda’. It is clear that the objective is not necessarily to address the issues facing our residents, but to isolate Amupanda, and a project that celebrity politicians are somehow not part of what is transpiring. Indeed, the objective is to frustrate and defocus this imaginary Amupanda in hollow minds”, he claimed.
Deputy mayor Clemencia Hanases also raised concerns about certain councillors who sabotage council matters and turn a blind eye to solving problems affecting residents.
“We have observed that there are certain councillors who are going out to residents to mobilise them for land occupation. This is saddening and disappointing,” she stated.
Although the City Police acknowledged that they indeed warned the residents to vacate the land they occupied illegally, they said they do not demolish houses.
“City Police does not demolish houses. However, they maintain and enforce the law in place. We, therefore, urge residents to refrain from occupying land illegally,” said the deputy chief of the City Police, Leevi Iileka.