Oshakati blocks Huang

Jack Huang may have lost out on plots in Oshakati, but anger continues to rage over the decision to instead give 200 erven to another Chinese company.

04 June 2018 | Government

The Oshakati town council has blocked a recommendation to give fraud and money laundering suspect Jack Huang's company 100 serviced erven on which to construct houses.

Huang's company, Sun International Group, had submitted a proposal in which it was eyeing 100 plots from the council, but this proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by councillors last week during a heated meeting.

The plots have instead been given to First Wall Property, a company owned by Stina Wu, who is a Chinese businesswoman.

Wu, who also submitted a proposal to the Oshakati town council to construct houses, will now receive 200 plots.

The erven are situated at the Ekuku and Ehenye townships and were serviced under government's mass urban land servicing programme.

According to a town official who attended the council meeting, the reason why Huang did not receive the 100 plots was because of last year's N$200 million property deal at Ondangwa, where Sun International was given over 500 plots to service and construct houses.

“The councillors decided that they will not give Huang the plots, because he already has 500 of them in Ondangwa, which they said were not developed, and it would not make sense if he is given plots in Oshakati, which is good,” the source said.

Namibian Sun is informed that the Ondangwa project has not kicked off yet.

Oshakati mayor Angelus Iyambo yesterday confirmed the recommendation by the management committee to grant Huang the 100 plots was overwhelmingly rejected and that the plots in question were then given to Wu's company.

“On that matter, all I can say is that we, as councillors, deliberated on it and a decision was taken that the plots should be rather given to First Wall Property, which is a Namibian-registered company,” Iyambo said.

Huang, who is a friend and former business partner to President Hage Geingob, was arrested in 2017 in connection with a tax evasion, fraud and money laundering case involving N$3.5 billion, which is currently before the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.

The Chinese national was released on N$1 million bail.

He is the fifth accused in the case in which Walvis Bay businessman Laurentius Julius and three other Chinese nationals are also facing charges.

Haung and Geingob, through Africa Sunrise Investment, had submitted a proposal to build more than 400 apartments in Windhoek.

The Dr Hage Geingob Family Trust had a 20% in Africa Sunrise Investment, while Geingob's ex-wife Loini reportedly owns 20% and Huang the rest.

Geingob announced late last year he was no longer involved in the deal.

“I have sold it and I am going to be out of it. I am not prohibited from making money. I was making money before you were born. Money is not new to me,” Geingob told journalists at the time.







Why Wu?

Meanwhile, some stakeholders and council officials have also expressed their disappointment over the Oshakati town council's decision to grant Wu the 200 plots.

They say the deal is an insult to construction companies owned by Namibians, who were being disempowered.

“Does council mean that we do not have locals that can built houses? If you look at the 200 plots given to an individual company and that is owned by a foreign national, it means that we are creating wealth for that person, who will not spend the profits in Namibia, but in her native country,” a source, who preferred anonymity, said.

A highly-placed council official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said it is unacceptable for councillors to make such a decision, while adding it is not fair to fellow Namibians, who are operating in the construction sector.

However, Iyambo said there is nothing wrong with Wu getting the 200 plots, as locally owned construction companies have failed them many times.

“I am happy that Wu got the plots, because she presented well and she has also proven to us she has the capacity to take on the project,” Iyambo said.

He said thus far council has entered into public-private partnerships (PPPs) with about 30 locally owned construction companies, but only four have delivered.

“We have given about 30 of our local companies land to construct on, and if we go to those areas, the land is still idle. Only a few houses were constructed and that is not what we want. We get our income from rates and taxes, but if people are sitting on plots, where will we get money from?” Iyambo asked.

He added local companies that are given plots to construct houses are turning to bigger and more successful firms, mostly foreign-owned, and sell their plots to these bugger companies.

Iyambo said council is appealing to developers to surrender the plots they are not building on or face legal action.

“Those that are sitting on plots must just surrender them back to council.”

KENYA KAMBOWE

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