By William Mbangula
The Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement Isaack Katali has called for payment of fair compensation to people moved to pave the way for development in communal areas.
Speaking during celebrations of the World Habitat Day recently, he said time had come for amendment of the law providing for the removal of people in order to allow for payment of fair compensation.
World Habitat Day had “Securing your Habitat” as its theme this year.
Katali emphasised the need for people to ensure their environment is secure and protected against pollution, crime and unfair removal without proper compensation.
According to Katali, it is unpleasant to passively watch people moved without considering the negative effects the removals have on them.
“I am not instigating you not to cooperate with developers, but I am informing and empowering you to know your rights and obligations so you can enter into negotiations with the people who want to buy your land,” he said.
You need to bear in mind that development has come to stay. Towns and cities, hospitals, clinics, schools, roads and railways will be there.
At the same time however, I wish to emphasise the current law and procedures pertaining to compensation and relocation are still in force until amended by parliament.
“I personally feel there is a need to revisit this law in order to ensure that people are paid fairly. We need to deal with all the weaknesses in the law that affect our people negatively.”
He explained that sometimes land is purchased for a minimal fee of N$40 000 by the local authority. Some people may think N$40 000 is a lot of money, which it is not.
When the local authority subdivides the specific plots into 20 erven and sells each for N$40 000, this gives N$800 000.
When removals force people to move away from basic amenities – and the only place they have known since childhood – forcing them to start a new life somewhere else, N$40 000 is nothing.
According to Katali, the government has embarked on a drive to register houses in communal areas in order to make the people legitimate owners of the land on which they live as a way to make habitats more secure for people.
In this way, they will be in a better position to negotiate for the purchase of their land by developers.
Residents of Oshana Region celebrated World Habitat Day at Onamutayi village in Ongwediva constituency.