MARIENTAL – A potentially explosive situation between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) and the Mariental municipality was diffused during an urgent meeting held a week ago by the parties.
This is after the town council reportedly allocated erven belonging to the church for the government’s mass housing programme without the consent of the ELCRN hierarchy. In a strongly worded letter to the municipality, chairman of the Ebenhaeser Parish at Mariental, Timotheus Tsaitsaib, said the parish is disillusioned by what it perceives as continuous victimization by the municipality. He said the church is not a public nuisance and should be regarded as a partner in the moral education of the people.
“The parish leadership entered into negotiations with the municipality in the past, but without any tangible solutions,” he said. Tsaitsaib says in the letter that municipal authorities have failed to adhere to all verbal agreements with the parish in respect of the 32 000 square metres of land in the Aimablaagte suburb. “The recent developments whereby the municipality [tore] down the fence, which is the property of the church is a bone of contention and cannot be entertained, [because the action] is provocative,” the letter states.
Mariental chief executive, Paul Nghiwilepo, confirmed that a meeting was held with representatives of the church and that all problems regarding the land dispute were amicably resolved. “We did not alienate land from the church for government’s mass housing project, but only used land belonging to the municipality. I am also a member of that parish, why would the municipality grab land from the church, he asked. According to him the land on which the church was built was not registered in the name of the parish, but the municipality has now decided to make a submission to the council to have the erven registered in the name of the ELCRN. Tsaitsaib says the church has decided to engage the municipality without delay in order to channel an official request to the council, so that the land in contention could be donated to the parish officially. The church has occupied the plot in question for the past 83 years.
By Hoandi !Gaeb