OMUTHIYA – The acting Chief Executive Officer for Ondangwa Town Council, Malaika Lihongeni, has defended the transactions through which the Ondangwa mayor Paavo Amwele and the chairperson of management committee Christian Iitope acquired land in the town. Amwele acquired three erven, with a combined size of 4 540 square metres at a cost of N$229 856, while Iitope bought two erven, one for N$45 752, and the other for N$139 112.
Lihongeni, who is also the chairperson of the Land Allocation Committee, said Amwele and Iitope followed due process when acquiring the erven.
“Amwele had three plots of the same size in a different area, but he could not build anything because the areas have not yet been finalised in terms of planning and rezoning. As a result, in terms of financing one could not get assistance because the area is not dully registered and unplanned, hence he approached the council in order to transfer or to be given plots elsewhere for the same size and value,” explained Lihongeni.
He added that the plots that Amwele exchanged with new ones were acquired four years ago, when he was not even a councillor in the town council. Amwele’s erven were purchased through his company Huhu City.
“All in all, I can say there was no influence from Amwele by virtue of his position, he was excused in all meetings in which the decision was taken to award him the plots. So the portion where he owned the plot is not yet registered and proclaimed,” emphasised Lihongeni.
Amwele was also emphatic that there were not underhand dealings in the transactions to acquire the properties, other than that he opted to surrender his old erven to council, in exchange for new erven in a strategically located area. “The plots which I was recently awarded were also abandoned by someone who failed to pay and develop the land. My plots were behind him, hence I approached council through diligent procedure to occupy that land in exchange for the one I had. And this was done long ago. In fact I was also not part of the council committee which allocates land,” said Amwele, while persistently saying he was treated as an ordinary person and had no influence in whatever decision taken by council.
Lihongeni said the sale of two erven to Iitope was done because no residents was willing to purchase the land because of the cemetery that is located next to the land in question.
Itope, who is related to Anna Iitope, another local authority councillor for Ondangwa, applied for the plots recently this year.
“These two plots were once allocated to our late colleague but were never developed and took the plots for fear of cultural beliefs [against building next to cemeteries] as there are people buried on the land. So, when Iitope approached us, we as council having seen that there was no interest from the masses, we opted to offer him. In addition to this, Iitope has land in close proximity to the said portion where he is building flats, so he purchased the two plots in order to make parking bays,” explained Lihongeni, saying Anna Iitope was not part of the meeting which resolved the sale. The decision to award the erven was taken on May 18, 2018 during a council resolution meeting.