Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa has pleaded with landless Walvis Bay residents to give her a chance to address the shortage of serviced and affordable land at the coast, following recent land grabs that resulted in running battles with the police.
Shaningwa was addressing about 1 500 landless residents at Kuisebmond Stadium on Saturday when she said she does not want to hear about incidents of land grabbing at the town again, as wanton bloodshed and damage of government property cannot be allowed.
“I have seen how you live in Tutaleni. Nobody wants to live like that, not even me. Give me a chance to do what I have to do and prove you wrong,” the minister pleaded with restless Tutaleni residents, who repeatedly interrupted the minister.
Shaningwa’s visit follows mere days after about 350 landless residents took a police officer hostage in Walvis Bay and surrounded Tutaleni police station after they were asked to vacate private land they had illegally occupied. This resulted in residents attacking the police station, to such an extent the riot squad had to be called in to contain the situation.
The minister said there is a budget of about N$729 million set aside for infrastructure development and it should be used for land delivery by local authorities.
“We just need proper planning. People don’t just do things without a budget. You just don’t get up and compromise the economic situation of your country. Leave it to me as your minister to address your housing need. I don’t want to hear about land grabbing in Walvis Bay again, we cannot allow bloodshed while we can resolve the situation peacefully,” she explained.
She then urged residents not to be misled by people with hidden agendas that apparently want to see bloodshed in the country.
“If you do try again to grab land, I will only take it that my fellow Namibians are not really asking for land, but for something else. If I, as your leader, am urging you not do so and yet you do grab land tomorrow, I will be worried. There are people who want to incite violence and we know them,” said Shaaningwa.
“Our country is a country of peace, law and order. We cannot allow people to incite violence and cause bloodshed. We fought for this country. We left our people in the bushes of Angola. If anyone is man enough and wants to provoke the peace, this person will have to be dealt with,” she said.
She also urged residents not to fight the police, as they are mandated to maintain peace and order.
“They are your brothers and sisters and I don’t want you to start confrontations with them. We always forgive one another, regardless of whoever started first. Bloodshed and damaging of government property is not allowed and should not happen at all.
“Peace must not become boring. Elsewhere, mothers and children are dying every day due to fights. We should not fight about issues that can be resolved. Yes, I understand. I have seen how you are living. I cannot live like that, but it doesn’t mean we must grab land,” she advised.