Monied elite scramble for more land

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By Rochelle Neidel

TSUMEB – Tsumeb has become the latest theatre for the country’s crop of emerging land barons, who want to increase their riches by owning several prime residential plots at the expense of first-time home owners.

Many of the elite operating under the guise of “property developers” got land from the municipality purportedly for “new developments”.
For instance, the Tsumeb Town Council yesterday confirmed three companies received 114 hectares (ha) big enough to build 2 900 houses.
Napoje Trading, owned by businesswoman Teckla Lameck, received 54 ha.

Nansunga Properties owned by the former CEO of the MVA, Jerry Muadinohamba, received 10 ha while the Hangala Group, owned by the former MD of NamPower Dr Leake Hangala got 50 ha.

The 20 ha of the 50 ha allocated to the Hangala Group will be used for the construction of the University of Science and Technology and the remaining 30 ha for “mixed developments”, according to Archie Benjamin the CEO of the Tsumeb Municipality.

Muadinohamba, under his company Nansunga Properties, received about 54 ha in the affluent area of Tsumeb in 2010.
He cited plans of developing warehouses on the land and how this development would complement the Walvis Bay Corridor.
However, consultations are still pending, according to those in the know. Sources said Muadinohamba also owns properties and prime land in Ondangwa, Swakopmund and Katima Mulilo where he has developed a block of flats.

Lameck has finalised the purcharse of seven of the 54 ha through her company.

The rest of the plot has now allegedly been re-allocated to six developers. The seven-hectare piece of land that she owns is big enough to build 175 houses.

Last November, Lameck’s pursuit of land the size of five football fields in Windhoek’s Andries de Wet Street and Sam Nujoma Drive in Klein Windhoek was blocked by the Windhoek City Council.

In April last year, the Hangala Group reportedly also acquired residential property valued at approximately N$60 million in Otavi, which they plan to use for “new developments”.

The property will consist of general residential erven, a retail centre, a private hospital, a filling station, business and light industrial parks in conjuction with the Namibia Development Corporation, aimed at housing carpenters, plumbers and electricians, to mention but a few.
The Hangala Group received this land in partnership with Lucas Boshoff, the owner of Gateway Properties – a property firm in Tsumeb.
When questioned why such large portions of land were being allocated to wealthy business people that already own huge portions of land in other towns, Benjamin rubbished claims that the municipality was promoting monopolies in allocating land to only the monied class.
“Many of the allocations are joint ventures aimed at creating new developments for the town. We stopped sitting back and watching whilst people acquire land and sit on it instead of developing it, hence the many repossessions that have taken place,” he said.

He noted that many of those owning large portions of land may have bought it at a time when developments were slow in the town and those that seem to be buying every second property do so because they have money.

“We all know why there are individuals in Tsumeb buying land and houses through private transactions. It’s tax money they want to flush – they sit with so much money now they want to buy left, right and centre to avoid paying high taxes,” he said.

Some portions of the land in question were allocated about six years ago and some of the buyers have not yet fully paid for the land.
It is not clear why the town council allowed some of them to sit on the land for so long.

But Benjamin said many prime portions of land were repossessed by council because the applicants failed to pay within the stipulated timeframe.

However, documents show large portions of land are still allocated to the elite that promise to bring “new developments to the town”.
Asked if those affording houses in affluent areas of the town would be able to get houses in future, given the small playing field engineered by selected developers, Benjamin snapped: “We are reviewing applications and have also made provision for residential developments in those mixed developments, but unfortunately we will not be able to regulate the prices of housing there.”

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