Windhoek-Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa has expressed unhappiness over the actions of some individuals, developers and private entities who are apparently going around with her name to local authorities to solicit land for the construction of houses.
She complained on Thursday during the groundbreaking ceremony of the City of Windhoek’s pilot housing project that some unscrupulous individuals even claim she is part of their companies.
She said some of these businesspeople go so far as to claim that they are her “brothers and cousins” and apparently demand to be given land, or accorded preferential treatment.
She, however, did not reveal their names, nor which towns these dubious activities were taking place at, nor how many unscrupulous individuals benefited through such dishonest dealings.
“I would like to warn these individuals to stop this practice. The law cannot be broken because you know someone in authority, this is not my style,” the outspoken minister warned.
She said opportunities must be given on merit, in terms of applicants having competently met all the requirements.
In other words, she said, fairness should be upheld at all times by those allocating projects to businesspeople and cautioned that the rules must not be broken just because people personally know her, or any other minister.
“Those who know me must also not be segregated, because they know me. Information must be given fairly to the citizens and not only to those connected either to the minister, the mayors, the CEOs, or the regional governors.
“We need to share the cake fairly and the concentration on one specific person, or one company benefiting, must come to an end,” she advised.
The groundbreaking ceremony last week marked the commencement of the construction of 71 new houses in Khomasdal Extension 16. In an effort to accelerate the pace of housing provision, Windhoek City has embarked upon a pilot project to build houses itself, in partnership with Amibex-Oluzizi Joint Venture.
“This is a move in the right direction by the City Council, as the need to provide housing – especially in Windhoek – cannot be over-emphasised,” Shaningwa remarked.
The minister said there is a huge shortage of housing products in terms of both number and type and the need is greater in the lower to middle income segment, especially in Windhoek.
Shaningwa further noted that the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and Windhoek Municipality all have long waiting lists of people in need of affordable housing.
People can be expected to continue to migrate from rural areas to Windhoek, being the capital city, in search of better opportunities, she added, noting that there was a lot more to be done to meet the housing demand.
“But I believe that if we continue to work together we will ensure that our people have the houses that they and their families need, now and for the generations to come. The need in Windhoek is obvious and we must act without any further delays.”
In terms of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, government plans to deliver at least 6,500 serviced residential plots and 5,000 housing units per annum countrywide.
Looking ahead, the minister said government could not solve the housing crisis by itself, hence the need for all stakeholders to join efforts to enable government to solve the problem and fully develop the country.
Shaningwa said the ministry would continue to support public-private partnership arrangements that are truly geared towards assisting the government to provide affordable land and housing.
She said it was imperative that such arrangements are conducted in a transparent manner and clearly set out the targeted number of erven to be serviced and houses to be constructed, taking into consideration the affordability of these houses by the intended customers.