Namibia: City to Pre-Allocate 5,000 Plots

17 February 2021

THE Windhoek City council on Monday approved a proposal to start a plot pre-allocation initiative which will provide secure land ownership to more than 5 000 residents in informal settlements.

The pre-allocation initiative was developed to accelerate the municipality's land delivery system which has stalled for years "due to mainly lack of funding and a protracted land development value chain".

Council documents seen by The Namibian show that the municipality wants to pre-allocate at least 5 000 plots to residents in three years. The initiative is meant to benefit more than 140 000 households in the informal settlements.

The documents state that the municipality will identify vacant land which would be surveyed and subdivided for the purposes of pre-allocation.

Those set to benefit from this project are people who have been on the municipality's waiting list which has over 30 000 applicants.

People who will fall under the municipality's programme of formalising and upgrading the informal settlements will also be pre-allocated plots through this initiative.

The areas in which this project will be implemented include Katutura, Wanaheda, Okuryangava, Goreangab, Hakahana, Havana and Otjomuise.

"Households residing in informal settlements and those on the waiting list are growing more frustrated with a sluggish land delivery process which stands in their way to secure land tenure and its associated benefits.

To turn around the situation, land in informal settlements that has undergone initial planning stages shall be pre-allocated to prospective purchasers, tenants or members of a saving group in line with the development upgrading policy," the documents read.

The municipality's strategic executive for housing, property management and human settlement, Faniel Maanda said the initiative will be implemented in areas that have already been occupied, and unoccupied areas to be identified by the municipality.

"Beneficiaries are going to be allocated land in two ways. In vacant areas, the municipality will consider first allocating [land to] people who are on the waiting list which has about 30 000 applicants and consider those already occupying land in informal settlements," he said.

Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda yesterday told a media conference that the pre-allocation will be done through a "cleaned up" list where residents who already own a plot within the boundaries of Windhoek will not qualify.

"Cleaning up the list means we have to ensure that those who are on the list are deserving, not a person with five houses who is also applying, because if you already have a plot in the city and there are other people who do not have a plot, why must you be on the list?" he asked.

The municipality has an established list of residents who have applied for land with its property department, which will be cross-referenced with the Deeds Office. This final list will still need approval from the management committee and the full council.

FRAGILE LIST

Councillors at Monday's meeting, however, questioned the integrity of the municipality's housing waiting list.

Landless People's Movement councillor Sade Gawanas was not satisfied with the explanation provided by the executives on how beneficiaries are going to be selected for the targeted project.

"Do we know who we will be allocating? Is there a clear database of who the people in the informal settlements are, so that we don't allocate land to people who already have houses and land elsewhere?" Gawanas stressed.

Another LPM councillor, Ivan Skrywer, said it will be very difficult for the municipality to prevent people from illegally occupying land if "they don't have confidence in the waiting list".

Maanda said the municipality's waiting list in its current form is vulnerable to manipulation because it is being handled manually.

"The list in its current form is compromised. As it is, it is vulnerable and it can be tempered with," he said.

Maanda, however, explained that the municipality will digitalise the waiting list and have it scrutinised and approved by the council before it is published.

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