4 December 2018

Namibia: Windhoek Rejects PDM's Land Application

AN APPLICATION by an opposition party for land to build a house for a person living with a disability was rejected by the City of Windhoek's management council last week.

The application in question was submitted by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani last year.

According to minutes of a council meeting held last month and which were released last week, the PDM wanted to buy Erf 437 in Hilda Street, Goreangab to build a house for Shambulula Pameni as part of its social responsibility.

The plot, measuring 200 square metres, is valued at N$51 200.

According to the minutes, Venaani had requested the city to allocate the plot to an identified beneficiary, and that he was willing to pay for the purchase price of the plot, as well as building a house for the recipient.

The minutes further state that the prospective beneficiary - Pameni - was a person living with a disability, and has been staying in a shack in Okuryangava's Omulyambambi Street for many years.

He was categorised as a first-time buyer under the city's allocation policy because he did not own any other property in Windhoek.

Although the minutes show that preference was granted to allocate the plot in question to Pameni, the management committee rejected the application on the grounds that the applicant, (Venaani) did not follow the necessary procedures.

"Given the above, the management committee, after extensive deliberations, recommends that the request from the leader of the official opposition's office not be approved, and that Erf 437, Goreangab be allocated to the next person on the city's disability waiting list," the minutes read.

Although the majority of Swapo councillors supported the decision to reject the application, opposition party councillors opposed this decision, and wanted the item to be deferred.

Opposition councillors, including the PDM's Ignatius Semba, the RDP's Brunhilde Cornelius and Nudo's Joseph Kauandenge argued that the management committee did not provide concrete reasons for their rejection.

They further accused the management committee of taking the decision based on political affiliation.

Chairperson of the city's management committee, Mathew Amadhila, yesterday said Venaani's application was rejected because the city has a policy that forbids them from allocating land to political parties.

"It is because Venaani applied as the official opposition leader, and it does work like that. An opposition cannot just come and say I want land to build a house for someone. Either the person you want to help must be on our waiting list, or else it would look as if you are campaigning," he said.

"I cannot just come because I am a Swapo member and say I want to buy you land personally. It's like I paid you to go and vote. Otherwise, we can also allow Swapo and other parties to buy land for their members," he added.

Moses Shiikwa, who is a member of the city council's management committee, last week refuted that, saying the application was only rejected because Venaani did not follow the correct procedures.

Shiikwa also stated that had they approved the application from the PDM, it would have set a precedent for other political parties to use the city to get land for their members.

PDM councillor Semba yesterday still maintained that the decision to reject Venaani's application was politically motivated because, according to him, the management committee did not provide concrete reasons for its decision.

He gave examples of how the municipality had assisted people with disabilities and the destitute in the past through the help of politicians.

According to Semba, president Hage Geingob built a house for people who were sleeping in a Katutura graveyard when he was prime minister.

"It is unacceptable for the management committee not to provide reasons why they had rejected the application, just because the person who applied (for the erf) is from the opposition party. You cannot throw away an application because you are saying that necessary procedures were not followed," he stressed.

"We need to treat and serve our residents in the same way, irrespective of their political affiliation. What the council did is to deny that person an opportunity to own a house because of political interference," he added.

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