Cabinet is expected to announce in May what is to be done with the unoccupied houses constructed under the multi-billion dollar mass housing programme, many of which have already been vandalised and are being used as toilets.
In the meantime, the Build Together Programme has been revived as a standalone self-help programme for low and ultra-low income people, earning as little as N$3 000 per month, those with no access to financial credit and those deemed to be a credit risk.
House plans for Build Together are for one bedroom, a kitchen and bathroom, and the estimated cost of the house is N$40 000 on a loan that would be repayable over 20 years.
Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, made the revelations on Saturday in Swakopmund where she attended a two-day meeting with regional and local town councillors, and administrators, and delivered a speech at the late celebrations for Namibia’s 26th independence anniversary.
Regional and local authority leaders raised their concern about the state of the many unoccupied housing units built under the mass housing project, which are being used as toilets and have been vandalised with windows smashed and pipes broken. Geysers along with their solar panels have also been plundered.
Regional and local councillors expressed concern that government would have to once again fork out money to fix the damaged houses, while people remain on the waiting list.
Shaningwa said it took longer than expected to distribute the houses because some of the beneficiaries on the waiting list have low incomes and cannot afford the mass housing units.
“Some of them don’t have an income and so we have to convince Cabinet that we should look at a further reduction in the prices of the houses,” said Shaningwa.
She said the drafted submission will next week be made to Cabinet for decision and the outcome would be communicated to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and all concerned local authorities.
Shaningwa added that the residents on the combined NHE and local authorities’ waiting lists would be given priority in the allocation of houses.
“The houses must be disposed of and we will know the final details by end of May. Meanwhile, I would like to urge all of you to continue rendering security services to the properties as we cannot afford further vandalism as it is costly to the state,” Shaningwa said.
She further explained that money collected from the sale of houses would be put into a revolving fund so that more houses can be constructed to decrease the housing deficit in the country.
“People who are allocated houses should not be allowed to sell them for a minimum period of 10 years as the aim is to reduce our housing backlog. Apart from that, government spent millions on constructing these houses and it would be an injustice to sell them off for quick profit,” she said.
Shaningwa said the Build Together Programme, which was absorbed by the mass housing project in 2013, would commence immediately. It will run concurrently with the mass housing programme.
All local authorities have been instructed to use the available serviced land for the construction of houses under Build Together as soon as possible.
“I also established through the meeting that there are more than 27 000 serviced erven across the country right now. Government will build houses on some of these erven and others will be given to people to construct their own houses,” Shaningwa revealed.
Shaningwa said she also established that there are 80 000 demarcated unserviced erven in Namibia, which only need funding for servicing.
She noted that under Build Together poor quality houses will not be tolerated as the aim is to deliver quality properties.
“Please get yourself on the waiting lists of municipalities for you to benefit from this housing scheme, on a first come, first served basis. Also give full cooperation to your leaders by telling them what you want and how you want it, so that they can assist you,” the minister told the community.
In 2014, 10 village councils petitioned the government, calling for the reinstatement of the Build Together Programme, citing that mass housing will lock out low-income earners, as the houses are expensive.
The 10 village councils that signed the petition were Tses, Bethanie, Berseba, Maltahöhe, Kalkrand, Koës, Leonardville, Gibeon, Stampriet and Witvlei. – Additional reporting by Nampa