19 June 2012

Namibia: SPYL Unhappy With Demolition of Shacks

Members of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) in Katutura's Samora Machel Constituency on Saturday passed a motion of no-confidence in councillors representing Swapo Party in the Windhoek City Council.

SPYL members convened at the Greenwell Matongo Community Centre in Katutura on Saturday to discuss their unhappiness about the demolition of illegal shacks erected in the Goreangab informal settlement on Wednesday.

In an interview with Nampa here on Sunday, the SPYL's former district secretary for Samora Machel Constituency, Immanuel Nashinge, said they were disappointed with the way in which the city councillors handled the situation.

"We submitted a letter of invitation to the office of the mayor, office of the Governor of the Khomas Region, to our constituency councillor, as well as to the Swapo Party regional coordinator to inform them about our planned meeting," Nashinge said.

He went on to say that the SPYL is of the opinion that the leaders "have something to hide" as no one from the office of the mayor or Constituency Councillor Abisai Hangula responded to the invitation. Nashinge said Khomas Governor Samuel Nuuyoma said they should go ahead with the meeting and added that he would stand by any decisions they came up with.

"We called this meeting with all parties involved so that we could raise our grievances regarding the demolition of shacks belonging to mothers and fathers, who voted these people into power. Our intention was not to take action," Nashinge said.

He said Deputy Mayor Gerson Kamatuka apparently responded that the meeting was "not needed".

The youth league meeting ruled that a document would be drawn up citing their grievances and conditions regarding the demolition of shacks, and this would be presented to the Windhoek City Council yesterday.

"One of the conditions will be that the city council should come up with an alternative for temporary shelter for these people whilst they decide on an area where they can stay. If our conditions are not complied with by Tuesday, we will go and put the shacks back ourselves," Nashinge warned.

He also noted that the city council chose a bad time to destroy the illegal structures as it has left some occupants exposed to cold winter conditions.

Approached for comment on why no one from the mayor's office responded to the invitation submitted by the youth league, Kamatuka explained that the office had other engagements, but had sent its apologies to the youth league.

He said another reason was that the Windhoek City Police were ordered to halt the demolition of the illegal shacks until further notice.

The Windhoek City Police on June 13 started demolishing illegal shacks erected in the Goreangab informal settlement in Katutura.

This came after repeated warnings by the City Police, under the instructions of the Windhoek Municipality, that the occupants of the illegal shacks remove the structures. According to the City Police, the warnings went unheeded.

"For the past two weeks we were advising people to remove their structures. This means that they were informed that their structures were illegal," City Police Senior Superintendent Gerry Shikesho said in an interview with Nampa at the site of the demolitions.

The unhappy occupants, however, protested while their shacks were being demolished and said they were not informed that they would have to remove their shacks. Emotions ran high at the scene, with some people saying they had nowhere else to go, while others alleged that only certain shacks were demolished and shebeens were allowed to remain standing.

Shikesho responded that the shacks that were demolished were risky structures, adding that there would be no negotiation about the matter.

"Most of the fires break out in the informal settlements and some of the structures are even built in riverbeds," he said.

The protesting illegal settlers, however, would not take the matter lying down and immediately started rebuilding some of the shacks already destroyed.

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