Confusion over squatters 'deal'

A letter claiming that the Rundu town council is about to reach an agreement with squatters in the Tumweneni informal settlement has caused confusion.

19 July 2019 | Local News

The Rundu town council is planning to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a group of illegal land occupants currently living at the Tumweneni informal settlement along Cuma Road, following a community engagement on 24 May.

This is according to a letter seen by Namibian Sun dated 5 June in which former acting Rundu CEO Sikongo Haihambo says the municipality had engaged the community and this had birthed the decision to enter into an agreement.

However, Rundu mayor Isak Kandingu, who was also among those who attended the 24 May meeting, said he is not aware of a MoU.

He indicated all he knows is that the people living along Cuma Road are there illegally.

New acting Rundu CEO Herman Haingura said he also attended the meeting on 24 May.

“This is news to me. I do not know about any MoU,” Haingura said.

He maintained this position despite being informed that he was copied in the letter.

Haingura briefly explained that a MoU or a settlement agreement can only be entered once a council resolution has been taken, which should have emanated from the management committee through the relevant departments.

The intent of Haihambo's letter addressed to NamWater's manager for the two Kavango regions, John Muremi, was to request that the water utility continue its supply of water to the community.

It also explained the MoU.

Haihambo said a meeting with the community took place on 24 May, where the Cuma Road Temporary Committee was established.

The committee will play an oversight role in terms of land dealings, while combatting further illegal land grabs.

This meeting was attended by the Kavango East police leadership, council employees and the region's political leadership.

“At this meeting, the said committee was entrusted with the responsibility to oversee land-grabbing and infrastructure development matters in and around the Cuma Road area (which is unsurveyed land),” letter reads.

“This will be regulated through a MoU with the Rundu town council.

“This therefore is a request to your office to provide water strictly and directly to the Cuma Road area, noting that management measures are put in place. The supply of purified water may commence/continue with immediate effect within your schedules and at your rates to the users until the Rundu town council advices otherwise.”

When Namibian Sun visited the Tumweneni informal settlement, vice-chairperson of the group, Alexander Muyambango, said they are happy to have been accorded an opportunity to engage the town council and for the establishment of the Cuma Road Temporary Committee.

“We are happy to have a place which we can call a home,” Muyambango said.

He also shed light on their one-year anniversary event they had on 25 June to mark a year of living in the area.

When asked why they took the route of grabbing land, he explained this has been the “Rundu way” of getting land, saying that the majority of townships at the town were the result of illegal land grabs.

“People call it illegal land grabs, but ask them how Kehemu and other townships were formed; they were formed the same way,” he said.

He added their actions were the result of the town council's inability to service land for people to buy and settle on.

“Some of us have applied for land since 2002 and yet up to today no land was approved for us. Renting is expensive, as we are poor, therefore this is the only way we can get a piece of land and settle,” he said.

When asked about the MoU, Muyambango said they are still waiting on council to come forward with the process.

He, however, indicated they have lived up to the agreement reached on 24 May meeting, as no new land occupations had taken place along Cuma Road.

“Currently no new registrations and land occupations are taking place. The only people setting up are those who were allocated plots and they did not secure the materials at the time,” he said.

About 700 structures have been erected at the area. A pre-primary school has also been established.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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