REVOKED: Grootfontein municipality plans to revoke unpaid plots.
REVOKED: Grootfontein municipality plans to revoke unpaid plots.

Grootfontein to snatch idle land from defaulters

Plots to be re-advertised for ‘serious buyers’
Some plots have not been paid for or developed more than 10 years after they were allocated to individuals at the town.
Kenya Kambowe
The Grootfontein municipality has taken a hard-line stance that will see close to 200 plots and surrounding farms being confiscated from beneficiaries because no payment or development was done on the land for over a decade.

While the mushrooming of informal areas in the town has been an Achilles heel for the municipality, with hordes of desperate landless residents taking it upon themselves to illegally occupy council land and establish informal areas such as ‘Kap en Bou’, those who were lucky enough to get land are failing to honour their financial obligations.

The municipality has further threatened to terminate lease agreements of those who occupy council-owned properties without paying for them.

“It is the intention of council to reconcile accounts for land allocated but not paid for as per the sales agreements, as well as [those renting] municipal properties [with] zero income [coming] to council. Land that has been allocated but not paid for shall automatically revert back to council without further notice,” the communique read.

To be re-advertised

Grootfontein acting CEO Indileni Lungameni yesterday told Namibian Sun that the preliminary reconciliation of the land books show that there are 153 unpaid-for plots, some of which date back as far as 10 years ago.

Lungameni further explained that around 29 properties - consisting of portions of farmland that were leased out, open spaces awarded for trading, informal trading stalls and shops as well as halls that are being used while not generating income for council - will be confiscated.

He added that the number of properties is likely to increase as the council is yet to complete the reconciliation process.

“This is just those who did not pay for the land. The plots and properties will be re-advertised for potential new buyers,” he said.

Plotrot

Namibian Sun in 2021 reported on a damning ministerial forensic report into the affairs of the municipality, which unearthed that it was struggling to collect rent from townland tenants, with some paying as little as N$820 a month for a 600-hectare farm. The farms - commonly referred to as camps - are situated in the country’s breadbasket, known as the Maize Triangle.

The Grootfontein council owns four farms measuring a combined 2 451 hectares, which it leases to third parties. The local authority also leases part of Townlands 754, which measures approximately 600 hectares. The lease agreements are valid for a year, with the option of renewal.

It was further reported at the time that the audit - conducted by the urban and rural development ministry - unveiled that resources were misused for self-gratification by politicians and municipal staff.

A source, who had seen the report, said the probe uncovered that some council employees were the direct beneficiaries of monies received from farms owned by the local authority which are leased to third parties.

“Some of the staff at the local authority managed to lease these council farms to third parties and instead of the money being paid to the local authority, they actually kept these funds,” they claimed.

The report also found that council staff revoked land rights from people failing to pay and, without informing the defaulting client, employees took the land.

This, the source said at the time, is why the local authority had been failing to deliver services to Grootfontein residents who, over the years, have seen their land being ‘grabbed’ by outsiders, and basic services like water and waste collection becoming massive challenges.

Lungameni said the report’s recommendations have been a topic of discussion lately at the council.

“It is not done yet, it is still pending. It was just partially implemented and then parked. The discussions around it have begun and the implementation will continue where it stopped,” he said.

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Namibian Sun 2024-05-27

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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 354.46/OZ UP +0.73% | Copper US$ 4.80/lb UP +1.33% | Zinc US$ 3 077.30/T UP 0.19% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 83.01/BBP UP +0.83% | Platinum US$ 1 052.04/OZ UP +2.12%