Despite a mass land occupation planned by the Affirmative Repositioning movement next month, government says it will continue addressing challenges facing the nation as it has been doing all along.
The planned land occupation is slated for July 31, a day on which landless Namibians, especially the youth, plan to occupy vacant land in towns across the country.
Affirmative Repositioning (AR), led by among others suspended Swapo Party Youth League executive committee member Job Amupanda, plans to spearhead the planned mass land occupation.
Responding to questions from this publication over the weekend, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said government is concerned that poverty continues to prevail amongst many Namibians despite efforts made to address it.
New Era was particularly interested in whether government has in any way tried to meet the AR demands regarding land provision.
A diplomatic Kuugongelwa-Amadhila opted for a more general response instead of answering directly to the demands of AR – whose other two leaders are George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.
“Government has scaled up its efforts and resources under the budget to strengthen efforts to curb this vice [land scarcity] with a new Ministry of Poverty Eradication established,” she said.
“The housing provision and land reform efforts have received a boost through the mass housing programme and the accelerated land reform programme, both of which are being driven by special committees set up by government.”
Asked whether government is ready to meet AR leaders in order to find common grounds and therefore stop the planned mass land occupation, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said: “Government has always welcomed ideas from all Namibians that help to strengthen the ongoing efforts to address this and all other challenges facing our country.”
She warned that any actions that are contrary to the laws of the country would obstruct government’s progress in addressing challenges facing the nation.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila last week announced in the National Assembly that the country’s executive and legislature would join forces in the form of committees to find measures to tackle the land issue with a view to avert a looming crisis.
This surfaced in the National Assembly as the latest step to tackle the land shortage, which is increasingly threatening peace in the country.
On Monday last week landless people – many of them youth – in Katima Mulilo stormed the municipal offices and physically abused town CEO Charles Nawa over the non-availability of residential land at the town.
Government’s efforts to reduce the housing backlog were dealt a major blow when the mass housing programme was suspended temporarily.
Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa suspended the entire project because NHE could not acquire the N$2 billion needed to bankroll the programme that was meant to build close to 10 000 houses from 2014 to 2016.
“I told them to halt the project. It is useless to tell the people to continue working while there is no money. I told them to apply the brakes,” she was quoted in The Namibian as saying.
Namibia currently has an estimated housing backlog of 100 000 housing units, some dating back as far as 1999.
Of Namibia’s 2.2 million population, figures from the National Planning Commission indicate that more than 400 000 people live in shacks in informal settlements across the country.
The Labour Force Survey released in March this year put the unemployment rate at 28 percent.
The survey says Namibia’s employable population stands at 990 998. Of that, 712 752 are employed, leaving 278 245 unemployed people who eke out a living mainly in informal settlements.
Of the 2. 2 million people, the survey reveals that 813 751 are children.