9 August 2012

Namibia: NPC At Odds With Keetmans Group

THE National Planning Commission (NPC) has turned down a request of N$750 000 from the //Kharas Ta Ômkhâisen group - or Karas is Developing Itself (KDI) - to develop land promised by the Keetmanshoop Town Council from where 400 households were recently evicted after illegally occupying it since February.

KDI wanted this amount of money to come from the special initiative programme introduced by the German government for the affected descendants of the 1904 to 1908 genocide.

But NPC Permanent Secretary, Leevi Hungamo, responded to the group on July 30 that the special initiative project funding has already been fully committed and that the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP) under the administrative arm of the NPC cannot accommodate any additional requests.

During the visit of former director general for African Affairs of the Foreign Office of the German government, Walter Lindner, last year and again this year, it was acknowledged that the implementation of the 20 million Euros (about N$200) special initiative funded by the German development bank, KfW, on behalf of the German government introduced in 2004 and conceptualised in 2006 was too slow.

The implementation of the project only started in 2009. During the first phase, it supported 54 projects.

At the last visit of Lindner, he said 150 projects would be supported with a topped up budget.

The NGSIP yesterday said the initiative was rolled out as a uniquely participatory rural development programme with more than 200 small scale projects identified and managed by the selected communities located in 24 constituencies in Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa.

During the first phase 40 boreholes were rehabilitated and 10 agricultural projects supported.

Approximately N$146 million was made available for the second phase launched in April 2011, for which nearly 200 community projects are being undertaken.

NGSIP programme manager Mathew /Goagoseb said these projects range from the construction of Government infrastructure like schools, youth and sports facilities; the construction of community infrastructure and commercial centres; agricultural projects; and rural water supply projects.

In 2006, 2 970 Boer goats and 244 cattle were handed over to communities. NGSIP has budgeted nearly N$17,5 million to purchase, vaccinate and distribute livestock.

David Tiboth, personal assistant to Karas governor Clinton Swartbooi, yesterday said the special initiative team at the NPC has reported that the process of project roll-out is at an advanced stage.

Projects identified for the South included the construction of multi-purpose and business centres, and the distribution of goats, the latter of which was advertised last month.

Jacobus Josob of the KDI group said both governor Swartbooi and Keetmanshoop rural councillor Jimms Christian said that they have not yet received any funds from the special initiative programme. Christian though said a N$2 million community centre would be erected in the Karas Region.

Josob said plans to erect community and business centres in desperately poor and disintegrating communities is a "mockery".

"[It] is a deeply disturbing development since independence that the Government continues to erect centres and 'markets' without demand and discussion with various communities. These centres invariably turn into white elephants, while the tender procedures are geared around corruption," Josob charged.

The group also demanded to know how the 483,52 million Euros transferred from the German government to its Namibian counterpart since 2001 has been spent.

Josob yesterday said the KDI stepped in after the forced removal of the 400 families. After discussions with these families, it was decided to approach the Keetmanshoop Town Council to provide land for settlement.

He said the plans is to build houses for the communities in a fashion that will integrate business zones with residential erven with the intention to develop the land allocated as a self-contained unit. Such units would be able to create businesses and jobs in the tourism sector, which is one of the biggest economic contributors to the southern economy.

The intention is to infuse the historically traditional Nama architectural style of housing on the intended development.

Discussions with the town council have so far reportedly resolved around whether or not land would be afforded at a price, or for free.

But Keetmanshoop mayor, Moses Titus, said the KDI group is jumping the gun, since the negotiating process is still in an early phase.

"It was agreed that we [the council] will look for land and they [the KDI group] will look for funding," said Titus.

It is understood that the KDI group has approached the German NGO Alliance 'No Amnesty on Genocide', which consists of more than 100 NGOs, for funding.

Titus said so far some land has been identified for 30 households; the removed households are currently being kept at a reception area in Tseiblaagte where they have put up their own shacks.

The mayor said meetings have been held with the households, and some have been identified for the build together programme, while others will move into informal settlements.

Last week a private security company under Police supervision dismantled 40 about shacks built by the squatters who refused to be moved to informal settlements.

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