The CEO of Katima Mulilo, Charles Nawa, has denied allegations the town has sold the 15-hectare piece of land at Macaravan East on the eastern periphery of the town to local property developer Walter Mali.
His denial follows land grabs that have been taking place in the area, particularly among the youth who continue to clear land for possible occupation claiming the Katima Mulilo Town Council has turned down their applications for residential plots.
Macaravan East residents that have stayed there before the land grabs started also face eviction following a public private partnership (PPP) signed between Mali and the Katima Mulilo Town Council over the development of the area into modern residential houses.
The new PPP will entail the construction of houses for middle- and high-income groups.
Nawa clarified this in an exclusive interview with this reporter, adding that due to the council’s limited financial resources it has always called the private sector to join hands in resolving the acute shortage of houses at the town.
“Katima Mulilo Town Council entered into a partnership with the local developer. He has money and we have land. What is expected of him is to service the land and build residential houses. Rumours that we sold the land to the local developer are untrue,” he said. He could not say how many residential houses are going to be built in the area stating underlining the exact figure would only be known once the plans have been finalised.
According to Nawa, land in Katima Mulilo is abundant but the challenge was serviced land, as it requires millions of dollars to develop and the town council currently does not have that kind of financial resources.
“Servicing land alone can go over N$60 million but people don’t see that. The area that is grabbed is not even serviced. It does not have water, electricity or roads. People need to be patient while we resolve some of these issues. How do you survive without those services?”
Nawa further noted that the town council has approached its lawyer regarding land invaders in Macaravan East, who continue to clear land despite repeated verbal warnings.
“The issue of land grabbing is still going on. We have advised them to stop but they still continue. Some of them are even violent. We have approached our lawyer to see the best way to resolve this issue,” Nawa told New Era.
Many youths have however lamented council’s procrastination in allocating them land despite having submitted applications and having waited for too long.
They cite this as their reason for resorting to grabbing land, as their long wait has amounted to nothing. “I have submitted multiple applications to town council for over five years now but nothing has come up. The response we keep getting is that they will revert back to us. For how long should we wait while they own multiple plots,” said one of the land grabbers in reference to some council officials and councillors who own multiple plots.
However, Nawa noted that it was very difficult for town council to just allocate land that is not serviced, questioning if some of the land grabbers have the financial means to pay for the services that come with owning a piece of land.
“That area has to be serviced. We always tell applicants that we will come back to them when we have serviced land available. Some of these people grabbing land are not even working. Do they know that there are some financial implications with owning land? It does not come for free. Will they be able to pay for rates and taxes, for example?” he asked.
He further revealed that the town council was sitting with over 1 300 people registered for land last year alone. This is in addition to about 10 to 20 applications that are received by town council on a daily basis.
He said people that will be relocated to Extension 7 between New NHE and Chotto informal settlement are those residents that have been staying at Macaravan East affected by the new development and not those that have grabbed land.
“Some of these people even came from villages and were loaded in Bakkies. We know all that and all that are inciting them. We are just going to relocate people living in Macaravan East. Some have already been allocated plots at Mahohoma. We have worked closely with them with no problems at all. They are not the people grabbing land,” stated Nawa. Nawa hinted that the Affirmative Repositioning movement of youth activist Job Amupanda may have had a hand in the latest development. “Yes, it is possible because the same list that came up during the registration of their applications is the same list we have seen of people that have grabbed land, so it’s possible,” said the beleaguered CEO.
Meanwhile, the president of Christian Democratic Voice political party (CDV), Godhardt Kandume is supporting the land grabs in Katima Mulilo.
“As a leader and a Namibian, I support this fully. For 25 years now we have been waiting. We say enough is enough. Our parents sacrificed for land and now that we have achieved independence, the government is failing us. We are overcrowded in shacks while the elite have enough space even for their cats and dogs to roam around. Land is our constitutional right,” charged Kandume, who led a group of people that grabbed municipal land in Swakopmund early this year.