Despite Windhoek Mayor, Muesee Kazapua’s spirited defence of the municipality’s decision to lease four of its farms cheaply, the DTA yesterday called on President Hage Geingob to intervene so that the existing lease agreements can be cancelled.
It came to light in recent days that the City rents its farms for as little as N$9,700 for 4000 hectares, a situation which has irked local residents, many of whom currently pay more to rent a modest house in Windhoek.
The municipality has five farms – Commonage 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, with a combined acreage of more than 282 square kilometres. Despite the size of the tracts of land being leased, the city generates only around N$78,000 from the farms through rental income.
In a statement released yesterday, the DTA also cautioned Geingob against “his continued use of the kind of rhetoric whereby he and the Swapo Party elite threaten property- and landowners with the expropriation thereof.”
The official opposition called on the president to direct the managers of the City of Windhoek to cancel the long-term lease agreements of its farms with “politically well-connected individuals and businesspeople and [to] allocate it to be serviced for urban housing.”
At last Thursday’s monthly council meeting, Kazapua said the commonage farms are meant for future township development, but did not provide any reasons as to why the farms are being leased for next to nothing.
The municipality has also come under attack for failing to inform President Geingob during a consultative meeting last month that it is currently leasing out its farms. Kazapua told Geingob at the time that there are about 20 square kilometres of land available in and around Windhoek.Should the lease agreements be cancelled and the farms transformed into townships, expropriation of private farms located around the capital may prove unnecessary.
“These farms were leased out to ensure that they are controlled and to avoid any sprawling that may hamper future development,” said Kazapua, much to the dismay of several members of public in attendance.According to Kazapua, provision is made in the lease agreements whereby Council can give notice to the lessee, in the event Council wants to cancel the entire lease, or portions thereof, for township development.
“Some of the lease agreements have expired and Council already resolved not to renew such leases to allow for township development,” he said. Kazapua also said: “Council further requested the acting chief executive officer to submit a status report on all commonage farm leases for review, in an effort to make ample land available for the mass servicing project and township development.”
The mayor said the rapid migration of people to Windhoek could also have tremendous negative impacts on the municipality’s ability to manage the urban environment.
Kazapua further stressed the need to build capacity and create employment opportunities in the emerging local authorities in order to relieve the pressure on Windhoek.
“The City appreciates the progress made during the past years on the decentralisation [process], but the acceleration and improvement of this programme will go a long way in the enhancement of the quality of life of our citizens,” he said.