Ongwediva-The mayor of Helao Nafidi says members of the public are partly to blame for the ongoing sale of land to foreign business people.
In a frank interview with New Era, Mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa accused the public of failing to comply with existing laws, saying they only blamed municipal officials once things go wrong.
Nghipangelwa was responding to the ongoing social media furore over a piece of land – Erf 1538, measuring 5,338 square metres – that Helao Nafidi Town Council intends to sell for about N$400,000 to a foreign national.
Council had recently placed a notice in the press requesting members of the public to file objections to the sale, if they had any.
The newspaper advert precipitated a social media storm with one of the critical messages posted on social media asking: “Was the war of liberation not about land, and if so, didn’t our white compatriots state that they too bought the land they are occupying from Nama and OvaHerero chiefs?”
The same post inquired whether present-day politicians wanted the children of the current generation to fight foreign nationals that are now buying land from Namibians.
Another respondent said Helao Nafidi Municipality’s decision is a joke and asked how the mayor could allow foreign nationals to buy land here while there is an outcry by locals over land.
Among the companies that applied to buy land at the town are KDG Motors, KAN Trading and Byblos – all owned by foreign nationals who have set up shop at Helao Nafidi.
Nghipangelwa, however, maintains that the public failed in its duty to protect Namibian land, thus leaving local authorities with no choice but to offer it for sale to whoever applies for it.
“I really feel bad, because in 2015 when the Honourable Minister of Urban and Rural Development [Sophia Shaningwa] submitted the Local Authorities Amendment Bill of 2015, it went through Cabinet, Parliament and the National Council,” he said.
He noted that under Section 33 of the Local Authorities Amendment Bill of 2015, Shaningwa wanted certain designated zones within local authority boundaries to be reserved for Namibian citizens only and for land transactions within such areas to only take place between Namibians.
The amendment to the Local Authorities Act would likely have also resulted in the amendment of the Foreign Investment Act, which could have all worked in favour of Namibians, according to Nghipangelwa, but when consultations were had, members of public did not show up in numbers and the few that did, did not support the Bill, he added.
“It should be clear that I’m not saying that the people on the list should get land. No. That’s why we made the list public for members of the public with objections to come forward.
“They should not feel intimidated. I also want to protect our land, but we cannot just operate in a vacuum,” Nghipangelwa said.
He further said if the public is serious about objecting to land at the town being sold to foreign nationals, they should rather find out whether the Land Act Amendment Bill of 2015 will be put back on the table so that they can make their considered input, on the basis of which an informed decision can be made.