The Oranjemund Town Council (OTC) said it is disappointed in the way the national diamond company, Namdeb, is negotiating as the two entities dispute the payment of occupational rent at the diamond town.
This, in turn, the council says, is holding up the crucial process of selling land and ultimately improving the town. Namdeb in turn has hit back that all its debts are paid up but that the process is being held up by the OTC’s insistence of a specific conveyancer.
Occupational rent is an amount payable by the occupant of a property to the owner, before transfer of the property has taken place. The amount is agreed upon in the agreement of sale, and is usually equal to the amount the property can be leased for.
The dispute stems from a 2018 agreement on the sales of properties, transfer of municipal services, municipal infrastructures to refocus the future economic development of the town away from mining production. This was intended to secure the future sustainability of the town through multiple industrial sectors.
In a recent statement, OTC spokesperson Glennadette Scholtz accused Namdeb of delaying tactics in negotiating with the council to resolve the payment of occupational rent to council in the absence of land rates and taxes.
Scholtz accused Namdeb of running a real estate agency in Oranjemund instead of focusing on being a diamond mining operation in line with its mining licence.
As a local authority, the council generates its income from municipal services rendered which includes rates and taxes, and currently, Scholtz noted, the council does not receive any payment in the form of rates and taxes on land where Namdeb’s improvements are established. She remained steadfast that Namdeb continues to dispute the payment of the occupational rent in the absence of rates and taxes.
Scholtz further alleged that Namdeb is more interested in continuing to benefit from rent to supplement their income from diamond sales. This she said leaves the entire community subjected to an expensive rental properties regime that leaves residents without any succession planning for property ownership that includes the OTC, as per the 2018 agreement.
According to Scholtz, Namdeb owes OTC approximately N$121 million in occupational rent plus millions of dollars on the sales of land on which Namdeb improvements are established.
“Council understands that it is expected that Namdeb will generate a substantial income of between N$200 million to N$300 million from the sales of properties in Oranjemund,” she added.
“Neither the board and the management of Namdeb are negotiating in good faith for the sales of properties in Oranjemund, which has become a bone of contention within the community of Oranjemund and businesses at large. This burning issue has also affected the growth and development opportunities of Oranjemund and its people.”
Responding to New Era questions, Namdeb spokesperson Shangelao Ndadi refuted OTC’s claims, saying Namdeb is fully committed to the successful transition of Oranjemund.
However, she claimed the process “is currently being delayed as OTC refuses to allow the transfer of properties, except through a specific conveyancer. It is Namdeb’s view that the only entity currently benefitting from the property sales delay is OTC”.
Ndadi noted that the transfer of property to individual owners remains one of the long outstanding and critical actions. However, she said, Namdeb remains committed to making homeownership in Oranjemund a reality and will endeavour to work together with other stakeholders.
The Namdeb spokesperson continued the company has complied with its 2018 agreement and has to date made infrastructural and services donations to the council amounting to approximately N$80 million.
“Of this amount, N$60 million was in terms of the agreement and an additional N$20 million was spent by Namdeb in support of the successful transition of the town of Oranjemund. Namdeb, therefore, continues to abide by the stipulations within the agreement, and has gone far beyond this to facilitate the town transformation,” said Ndadi.
According to Ndadi, Namdeb’s accounts are paid up, with only the occupational rent, which is being disputed, not paid, and Namdeb has referred the matter for arbitration for resolution.
She further stated that Namdeb has on numerous occasions requested the OTC to allow for the selling of properties to continue with no success. This she noted has resulted in a long delay for the town’s residents in owning the properties they live in.
“The insistence of OTC to make use of a specific conveyancer for transfers has not assisted in progressing this matter,” Ndadi stated.
Crucial delay… Antelope grazing in the front yard is a regular sight in the diamond mining town of Oranjemund.