Brakwater Squatters: An Imminent Disaster

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Please allow me space in your newspaper to set the record straight concerning the issue surrounding the residents of Farm Emmarentia, commonly referred to as Mix informal residential settlement (so-called squatter settlement) in Brakwater, which is situated some 22 kilometers or so north of Windhoek.

My name has been linked to the issue of Mix as I own several portions of plots in Portion No. 7 of Farm Emmarentia, which is the immediate neighbour of part of the subdivided main Farm Emmarentia of which Portion No. 7 which I own was originally part.

I hereby state categorically that the majority of the illegal informal settlers (squatters) are not on my plots, but there are some few shacks (corrugated iron houses) which have spilled over onto some of my plots from the neighbouring portion of subdivided Farm Emmarentia situated south of my plots.

Furthermore, I would like to mention that I have got no commercial interest whatsoever in the immediate neighbouring portion of the Farm Emmarentia situated to the south of my plots where the majority of the informal residents are currently residing, nor do I have any commercial or any other interest in any of the neighbouring plots in Brakwater other than the plots which I legally own.

So, this is to say that all stories doing the rounds that I’m a business partner in one of the residential/business plots or farms in Brakwater owned by other people, other than mine which I have legally purchased, are devoid of any truth.

Furthermore, all malicious, ill-thought and provocative accusations and pathological lies that are being dished around, that I have stolen land from the poor people or poor workers of the late Mix in Brakwater, do not hold any water whatsoever.

Allegations levelled against me that suggest that I’m involved in some corrupt practices, or am guilty of some conflict of interest of some kind or another due to the fact that I own land in Brakwater, which supposedly belong to the poor or workers, while I’m a Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development which is a custodian of providing housing in Namibia, is nonsense and utter rubbish. This is so because of the following reasons and facts:

Firstly, the linkage of my current position as a Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, to my ownership of several plots in Portion No.7 of the Farm Emmarentia, in Brakwater is utter rubbish because when I bought Portion No. 7 of Farm Emmarentia in 1999, factually and materially I was not a Deputy Minister in any Ministry or Member of Parliament for that matter.

Hence there is no conflict of interest as far as this matter is concerned, even though my current position also does not prohibit me to enjoy or exercise my fundamental human rights and freedoms such as ownership of property in a free and independent Namibia. I have full right to ownership of property just like any other citizen who owns or may wish to legally own property in this country.

Secondly, soon after I realized that some of the houses from the squatters in the neighbouring portion of Farm Emmarentia situated immediately south of mine, were spilling over onto some of the portions of my several plots, I also took interest in seeking an amicable solution to the plight of the former workers of late Mix.

I discovered these spillover houses situated on my side of the Farm during the process of identification of the beacons /pegs (borders) of my plots. As a matter of fact, since the time when I discovered that some of the houses of the squatters are situated on some of my plots, I have openly declared my willingness and interest to contribute towards seeking a solution to the issue affecting the former workers of late Mix.

Therefore, in this regard, the request which I have been advancing since the year 2000 to date to various stakeholders such as the representatives of the SWAPO Party, representatives of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and other stakeholders involved with the issue of the informal residents (squatters) at Mix, who are spillovers onto my properties has been, and still is, that we can identity who are the people who really worked for the late Mix – thus their names and names of their affected relatives or families?

For nearly more than seven years, I have been pleading with various stakeholders involved with this issue to identify the former workers of late Mix, so that we can address their plight, but to date I have not been given a list or any single name of the former workers of late Mix residing on the Farm Emmarentia.

The answer which I have often got is that I must negotiate with a Committee representing the residents (the squatters informal settlers) in order to sell my land to them. Sometimes I am told that I must give back the land which I have stolen from the poor workers who inherited it from the late Mix, but whenever I ask for the names of the concerned workers or any papers (titles of deed) which prove that the portion belonged to somebody else other than the estate of late Mix (previous legal owner) from whom I bought the land, that is not complied with.

I am told that it is not my business to know the names of the workers who worked for the late Mix, who have inherited the land from him, but I must fulfill the request of the Committee to sell or give the land back to the residents of Mix. This is where we have been stalemated for more than seven years now.

Thirdly, the sad story of the situation is that while the real workers of the late Mix remain unidentifiable so far, the situation at Mix has become uncontrollable and deteriorated from bad to extremely worse.

While I am being wildly accused with all sorts of accusations and subjected to all sorts of insults and threats, millions of questions are crying for answers, such as: is it true therefore that some members of the Police Force (some members of the Special Field Force) and their relatives or families who are now residing at Mix, are they also former workers of the late Mix, or are they also poor people?

What happened to their housing benefits as they are Government employees, because I also used mine in 1999 to purchase the land they now illegally occupy?

Are we experiencing some double standards, discrimination and selective morality, or is it the case that this land invasion which I’m experiencing is the harbinger or beginning of the worse scenario of private land invasion perhaps yet to come in this country?

Is it true that all workers who are working on neighbouring farms and business entities in the area are also former workers of late Mix? Is it true that all the business people who are said to be leasing their houses in Windhoek – now residing and running all types of businesses, including alleged unlicensed shebeens, cuca-shops, etcetera at Mix Farm – also former workers of the late Mix?

Is it also true that a suspected army of illegal immigrants from all corners of other African countries, if not from across the entire parts of the globe, alleged to be housed at Mix, also former workers of the late Mix?

Is it true that all alleged illegal activities taking place at Mix, such as theft, storage of stolen goods and all other social evils which are not supposed to be tolerated anyway in the world, let alone in our City of Windhoek which is positioned as the cleanest city on Africa, if not in the world, are going on unabated in violation of all Municipal laws and policies, but seem to be condoned by law enforcement agencies, and other formal institutions including the City of Windhoek, tolerated in the name of seemingly unidentifiable former workers of late Mix?

For more than seven years to date, why have all stakeholders involved with the issue of Mix failed to identify the former workers of the late Mix, so that we can address their plight in an amicable manner?

For how long are we going to play the blame game against some of us, while at the same time the situation at Mix has become a sore and disgrace in the face of the City of Windhoek? Who is fooling who or letting down who as far as the issue of Mix is concerned.

Fourthly, despite the fact that the Municipality of Windhoek is charging me more than N$600.00 per plot on a monthly basis for each of the several plots I own on Farm Emmarentia, Plot No. 7, the Municipality is not collecting any refuge nor does it render any services it is supposed to render to the residents of Brakwater, including myself?

Why is the City of Windhoek not rendering services such as refuse collection, prevention of noise pollution, environmental protection/management etc. to plots in Brakwater as the owners of plots of whom I’m one, pay rates and taxes to the City of Windhoek? Is it not criminal on the part of the City of Windhoek that it is charging some of us for services not rendered?

On several occasions, I have raised these questions to some representatives of the City of Windhoek and no answers were given, and yet to add insult to injury, I am now accused of conflict of interest?

The environment at Mix and the surrounding area is a disaster. Sooner than later, the refuse and human faeces deposited around the area of the Mix farm and its environment may cause an outbreak of cholera and other water-air-borne diseases which may affect the entire City of Windhoek, Okahandja, Karibib, Usakos, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, as the river passing through the Farm Emmarentia in Brakwater feed into many rivers and wetland/water catchment areas which feed into many other rivers in central Namibia and the coast.

Therefore it is really sad and regrettable that various stakeholders involved with the issue of the informal settlers/squatters residing at the Mix Farm are not addressing the issue hands-on, rather are employing a self-defeat tactic of dancing around the fire while the situation is getting out of control, and now a time bomb to explode to the detriment of the entire Namibian society.

On several occasions at various meetings on the issue of Mix, I have called on all parties dealing with this matter to handle it in a more serious, transparent and candid manner before it turns into an unspeakable catastrophic environmental and health disaster – which may affect many towns and people across many regions of this country.

Fifthly, to conclude, I would like to mention again here that it is my right to own land which I have acquired through all legal means just like any other citizen of this country. And by the way, the land which I have bought is land which was taken away by force from my ancestors, some of whose descendants are buried a few metres from my plots which I have legally purchased.

Are we treated to a history repeating itself of grabbing land by force or through dubious means like it happened during the colonial era or what is this trend of land invasion in Namibia supposed to mean?

Where is the ancestral land of those who are accusing me of having stolen land from the workers of the late Mix? And please can they prove their legal ownership of that land, and how much have they paid for it?

Let us avoid throwing stones at each other when dealing with critical national issues. I’m prepared to make my humble contribution in seeking a solution to the issue (more particularly with the genuinely affected parties – thus the former workers of the late Mix), therefore I call on others to own up to their responsibilities and accountability to identify the former workers of the late Mix in order to address the issue to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Arrogance and ignorance are not a solution in dealing with this one, or any other issues for that matter. Let us promote mutual respect for mutual co-existence.

I remain ready to openly and constructively make a humble contribution in order to assist the affected parties (former workers of late Mix who are a spillover on my portions of plots) but not those who have been driven there by greed, those who hijacked the situation at Mix at the expense of the late Mix’s workers. Till then!

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