Housing must be a priority
26 February 2019 | Columns
In the midst of an ongoing housing crisis, government in 2015 decided to pull the plug on its own mass housing programme. The programme, launched at the end of 2013 by then president Hifikepunye Pohamba, had intended to build 185 000 affordable houses by 2030, in line with the national long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030. To this date, only 3 958 houses have been completed countrywide, while 1 107 units are still in the process of being finished, according to the ministry of urban and rural development, under which the project now resorts. In an interview with Namibian Sun last week, Nghidinua Daniel, the executive director at the line ministry, claimed government was in the process of refining the project. “The ministry has commissioned a comprehensive review of the mass housing blueprint as well as the drafting of the ministerial implementation plan. The outcome policy documentation and implementation will guide the national housing development initiatives and provide clarity on the role of the state and other roleplayers going forward,” Daniel was quoted as saying. We must acknowledge that the housing crisis is worse than it has ever been and there is no doubt that in today's topsy-turvy housing market, cash rules. Many Namibians are shut out of the property market because rising prices have encouraged “buy-to-let” landlords, who continue to snap up many properties on the market, while government watches on with folded arms because its lack of failure to prioritise this critical social issue. Thousands in the middle- and low-income groups have expressed their anguish over the escalating property prices, but nothing cohesive is being done to address this. No wonder it is taking this government four years to fix a national housing initiative. Equally, the lacklustre performance of government in this critical area creates the impression that the authorities are not really bothered by the over 300 000-unit national housing backlog. Housing must be a priority and a national plan, with quarterly updates on progress, should be implemented as soon as possible.