Namibia: Lwanyanda Residents Refuse to Relocate

7 October 2019

Katima Mulilo — Residents of Lwanyanda informal settlement, who illegally settled on the piece of land within the Katima Mulilo town boundary, have refused to be relocated to Nova base some few kilometres from town.

All this dates back to October 2017 when the Katima Mulilo Town Council (KMTC) started demolishing houses erected illegally on its land, leaving dozens of families in the open.

Houses were demolished in the settlements of Cowboy, Dairy, Mahohoma and the majority of them in Lwanyanda area.

The widely publicised demolishing exercise brought condemnation from sympathisers, who condemned KMTC for demolishing people's houses without a court order. The Katima Mulilo town boundaries were declared between 1987 and 1991, before being declared by the office of the surveyor general and gazetted in 1992.

However, the Mafwe Traditional Authority started disputing these boundaries last year, when the Liselo community sub-khuta started allocating municipal plots to people of Lwanyanda by charging them a fee of about N$3 500.

This led to KMTC approaching the office of the Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu for assistance, who then engaged the office of the attorney general and Urban and Rural Development Minister Peya Mushelenga.

Private meetings were then held where the town boundaries were explained to the Mafwe Traditional Authority, which was not convinced and proceeded to look for a consultant Dr Boniface Mutumba to investigate the dispute.

During a media briefing last week Zambezi regional governor Sampofu revealed that the consultant had presented his findings and the Mafwe Traditional Authority has agreed to respect the existing town boundaries.

"On the 19th of September 2019 the consultant Dr Boniface Mutumba gave the findings and the report will be submitted to all relevant offices later ... the Mafwe Traditional Authority and Katima Mulilo Town Council accepted the existing boundaries ... as the authentic and recognised Katima Mulilo boundaries. Which forms the basis on which the town was declared in 1992," said Sampofu.

He added that the Mafwe Traditional Authority and KMTC will proceed to conduct meetings in the affected suburbs to inform the residents about "this development and people should be informed that in actual fact they are residing on plots which are within town boundaries and not outside as it was the belief previously".

However, this new development has not been accepted by Lwanyanda residents who feel they have been victimised by the Mafwe Traditional Authority and the Katima Mulilo Town Council. The residents have also refused to attend meetings with the two parties.

They in turn proceeded to hold a peaceful demonstration on Thursday where they handed their petition to KMTC. In the petition the group called on President Hage Geingob to come to their rescue.

"The whole portion of this land covers approximately 2 000 hectares that has accommodated 3 000 households of which each member had to pay N$3 525 to the Mafwe Traditional Authority in total some of N$10 575 000.00. Since they claimed the land to be their rightful owner (sic)," read the petition.

They further stated that they are now at the mercy of the town council that have reportedly threatened to relocate them with immediate effect, "to a danger place and neglected which was previously known to be a military base as well as a shooting range."

The same petition was supposed to be handed over to the Zambezi regional governor Sampofu, however the group refused to hand it to his special adviser Ignatius Nkunga, after Sampofu was reportedly not in the office.

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