Some residents of Bukalo have informed the Bukalo Village Council (BVC) that they are heartbroken about “unfair compensation” for the land which they intend to avail to the new village council.
Only four out of several villages expecting compensation were paid for their land to make way for the newly proclaimed village council.
Bukalo Village Council Councillor Charles Siyauya, representing the Swapo Party, lamented the fact that some villagers have not yet been compensated and said they have been grumbling over their money.
This happened despite their being located much closer to the village council, compared to some villages located far from the BVC that have already been compensated.
Siyauya further said some villagers informed the BVC that the criteria used for the compensation favoured some beneficiaries, who got more for their land – at the expense of others – and that this alleged favouritism has created animosity among the affected villagers.
Siyauya feels this preferential treatment could result in voter apathy in next month’s regional and local authority elections. “There were some irregularities, as some people got compensated more than the value of their properties and we wanted to investigate, but the Zambezi Regional Council stopped us, saying, ‘It is not you compensating the villagers, but us,” Siyauya told New Era.
He said the BVC even constituted the terms of reference with regard to the now stillborn investigation, but it was stopped dead in its tracks by the Zambezi Regional Council.
One of the villagers still awaiting compensation is Richard Simushi Mukena – a retired police officer.
Siyauya said the fact that land leasehold at Bukalo still belongs to the Zambezi Regional Council puts the Bukalo Village Council at a disadvantage, ”because we don’t know the price of our land. In other words we cannot attach relative value to our property, but investors want definite value. Investors will feel comfortable to buy land and not to lease land.”
In other developments the BVC requested the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) to assist the village authority to compile a baseline study that would assist the village council to plan better.
The new village council of Bukalo, which serves a population of 500, is strategically located between Katima Mulilo, Ngoma and Botswana and could very well become a business, logistics and a tourism hub.
Siyauya says adequate statistics are essential to planning in terms of the number of unemployed people, the number of school dropouts, the number of disabled and elderly, the types of skills and the sources of income among local residents.
The baseline study would enable the village council to know the population of Bukalo. He said the village council would also request the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development to help Bukalo formulate its five-year strategic plan. “For now we don’t know where we are going. We don’t know how to get there and we don’t know whether we are there,” Siyauya said. He also praised the Zambezi Regional Council “for the foundation that they have laid. It’s really a strong foundation that we found ourselves on.”
Siyauya further praised Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa for authorising Bukalo to benefit from the water being piped through the Katima Mulilo-Ngoma pipeline.
Bukalo residents will also no longer have to travel to Ngoma or to Katima Mulilo to certify documents, or to get a police form that needs to be filled in by a medical doctor when they have to open cases of grievous bodily harm or common assault. Plans are currently underway to build a Class C police station at the settlement that will consist of holding cells, a charge office and accommodation for police officers, he revealed.