Tsumeb youth to protest over land

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Tsumeb

About 1 000 landless youth plan to stage a peaceful demonstration here on the grounds that Tsumeb Municipality ignored applications for residential land from prospective first-time homeowners.

This is the same group that tried to illegally occupy land in Nomtsoub about two months ago, claiming the snail-pace of land delivery is too slow and that only the wealthy and well-connected elite are given preference.

The group says its membership has risen from 1 000 to 4 000 young men and women and they want answers from the municipality.

The chairperson of the group, Michael Uirab, says after they recently tried to occupy land they agreed to engage the municipality and other relevant stakeholders in dialogue and the municipality subsequently asked them to submit a list with the names and details of the applicants.

Uirabs says they submitted all the required documentation, but to date have not received an answer. He says the group will now organise a peaceful protest to the town council, where they will hand over a petition listing their grievances.

“They wanted to speak and we sat around the table and agreed, but now it’s delaying tactics being played at the municipality. The guys keep building flats to rent to us, but we’re not given a chance to also buy cheap and affordable houses,” he said.

Uirab further noted that the group emphasised to municipal leaders their willingness to volunteer for servicing of land, as they are often told that it is very expensive to service residential land. “We even pledged to work with our hands to meet our government halfway, but now we are being ignored and it is unfair,” said Uirab.

Uirab says the intention of the group was never to incite violence and use force to obtain land, but they resorted to demarcating erven illegally previously, because they were fed-up with the empty promises of the local authority.

“We never want to use force of anything like that. It was just heart-breaking to see that so many guys in town have up to ten flats that they rent out, while they have their own houses, and we the youth have to rent, because we can’t afford the high prices of land and houses. We don’t want to rent for the rest of our lives,” he said.

When contacted for comment the public relations officer at Tsumeb Municipality, Stella Imalwa, said she was not aware of the planned protest. She however indicated that the municipality is not sitting on its laurels and that all issues regarding land delivery are being dealt with holistically.

“I’m not aware of this [planned protest], but all issues regarding land are being looked at and will be dealt with,” Imalwa said this week.

On June 24 the government resolved to start servicing up to 200 000 plots countrywide and the process has started in selected towns across the country, including Windhoek, Oshakati and Walvis Bay. Tsumeb it is understood was, however, not part of the towns that were selected for the initial pilot phase of the project.

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