The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Politicians' Land Policy Plans On

PLANS by the Windhoek municipality to draft a policy which will give "national leaders" preferential treatment when purchasing land, might materialise despite a ministerial statement denying knowledge of the proposal.

The municipality chief executive officer, Niilo Taapopi, confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that the policy is meant to guide them when there is need to sell land to a national leader.

He also said the suggestion came as a result of a plot that was bought by the veterans' affairs deputy minister Hilma Nicanor for N$340 000 instead of the initial price of N$1 million in Windhoek's upmarket Kleine Kuppe area.

Despite this confirmation, the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, told the National Assembly last week that he was not aware of such plans by the municipality.

The minister's comments come four months after the Windhoek municipality admitted in the media that it was drafting a "policy addressing the sale of single residential properties to national leaders". Even though Namoloh said the request for such a policy has not reached him yet, "the development of a regulatory scheme to entrench preferential treatment ... will [remain as such] during my tenure of office".

"When I took oath as minister in the Republic of Namibia, there was no mention of supporting certain social classes at the expense of others," Namoloh said.

Mayor Agnes Kafula was quoted in the Namibian Sun in February this year, saying that "the policy is for us to be on the safe side and to protect our leaders".

More recently, the spokesman of the municipality of Windhoek, Joshua Amukugo, admitted that the controversial sale of a prime plot to the deputy minister was politically motivated.

"I have been really reluctant to go into this issue because we agreed to keep it at a political level. For any further explanations, our politicians would be in a better position to explain this," he said.

A municipal source told The Namibian that the plans for giving "national leaders" preferential treatment have not been called off.

"Maybe a public statement will be made when the public is informed that the process of coming through with that policy is still on," the source said.

In remarks he made in defence of the N$2,6 million Swakopmund land that was bought by the Swapo Party for N$30 000, Namoloh said the local authority has revised its rules to empower political parties that want to acquire land in the coastal town.

The municipality approved the deal at the end of last year but the transaction has been criticised by opposition parties who accused the management committee, which consists only of Swapo councillors, of bulldozing the decision through.

The minister confirmed that he received a request by the Swakopmund municipality to approve a new regulation that would allow the sale of a plot valued at N$2,6 million for N$30 000 to the Swapo Party in the name of empowering registered political parties to acquire land at the coastal town.

Although the deal was branded as a plot by the governing party to allegedly enrich themselves by the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), Namoloh insisted that the new rule will not only be beneficiary to Swapo.

"Yes, I received the request seeking my approval. The property policy is not only in favour of Swapo, but it is meant for any registered political party," Namoloh said.

He explained that if the RDP or the DTA of Namibia apply for land in Swakopmund, they will be treated in a similar way.

The property is located opposite the new municipal building in Swakopmund and has been leased to Swapo for about a decade.

Namoloh was responding to questions by RDP member of parliament Anton von Wietersheim, who also accused the governing party of utilising the property under false pretenses for over 20 years at virtually no cost.

"It is not right to say that Swapo has been utilising the property at no cost. All costs of the transaction, including costs of statutory processes, have been on the account of the applicant (Swapo)," Namoloh said.

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