Namibia: Land Relief for Okahandja

Residents of Okahandja will get land relief after the town council yesterday announced they would be rolling out a land-delivery programme.

Some residents this month resorted to cleaning up earmarked erven as they are tired of renting and want their own property.

Lukas Alfons, a resident of Okahandja for the past 32 years, says rich people are buying land at the town, while they do not own anything.

"We are all Namibians, we must get the same treatment. We have been asking for land for how long now and we are still waiting. That's why we decided to stand up for ourselves," he says.

Magdalena Fisch says she currently rents accommodation for N$1 500 at Okahandja where she stays with seven other people. She says they are tired of the municipality not assisting them with erven.

While addressing a crowded stadium filled with residents, Otjozondjupa governor James Uerikua said the region is rolling out an accelerated land-delivery programme through a vetting process which will determine who is in need of land and eliminate chancers.

He said land provided will not comprise less than 300 square metres per beneficiary.

"No one will own more than one plot; one person per plot. If you have a plot somewhere else you are not going to get [land] right now. Priority will be given to those who do not have. If you are going to get land and try to sell it, we will know about it," he said.

Uerikua said the vetting process will also help identify low, middle and high-income groups.

Preliminary numbers will be handed out to the residents who have to sign a lease agreement to ensure no one takes their plot.

This will be done before erf numbers are formalised.

"Before the land is occupied a survey must be done, which the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development are committed to start with immediately. Then we will put up pegs and demarcate the land according to the number of erven we are able to deduce from that. Then we will allocate according to the list," Uerikua said.

He said the ministry will provide water and sanitation.

The moratorium on land purchases at the town has been lifted, he said.

It was introduced by former minister Sophia Shaningwa in August 2015 in an effort to curb land sales and leases after it emerged the municipality was selling land without following the correct procedures.

Uerikua said no land grabbing is allowed, and if anyone is found doing this, action will be taken.

In addition, no erven will be repossessed by the municipality if the owner dies. The land will in turn be inherited by the owner's family.

Ivan Skrywer, national coordinator of the Landless People's Movement, said the governor is representing the same government that harassed residents a few weeks ago.

Skrywer said the people of Okahandja should remember governments come and go every five years, but people remain.

"We told the community members the police are not the enemy, they are also landless, they are homeless and they are our brothers and sisters," he said.

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