Town councils blamed for land grabbing

The DTA is of the view that town councils and municipalities across the country must jack up their act and deliver land timeously to avoid land-grabbing actions.

18 May 2017 | Local News

DTA secretary-general Manuel Ngaringombe says town councils in Namibia are failing to recognise that their inability to deliver affordable serviced land to the residents is what is fuelling the land grabbing chaos.

Ngaringombe said that at the root of all the land uprisings is councils' poor management, planning and administration throughout the country.

He said the precarious situation unfolding in the Walvis Bay informal settlement is similar to what happened in Windhoek 7de Laan a few weeks ago.

Ngaringombe, who is also a former councillor of the Walvis Bay Municipality, said residents who have been forced to settle on informal land due to lack of serviced land, are being forcefully removed from their homes.

“Police are being deployed to forcefully remove people who have nowhere else to go. Families with young children are being forced onto the streets as the country approaches the cold winter months.”

He added that people's property is also being destroyed in the process.

According to Ngaringombe, the empty promises, the bureaucracy and long waiting lists have all resulted in many people in Namibia losing faith in town councils' ability to provide them with land.

“While one must always denounce land grabbing, to do so without simultaneously recognising that it is the lack of delivery by local authorities that has created the situation where people feel that land grabbing is their only option, would be a dishonest and incomplete assessment of the situation.”

Ngaringombe also said when the Municipality of Walvis Bay promised informal settlers that they will be resettled onto identified land and did not deliver on their promise, people lost hope in the council's ability to provide them with land.

He added that for the council to then proceed to evict those people is unconscionable.

According to him, it is not surprising when people who have been on waiting lists for low-cost housing for decades to believe that land grabbing is the only choice they have.

He added that town councils need to be part of the solution by delivering on their mandate.

“The alternative is to wait for the situation to escalate out of control. More property will be damaged and we run the risk of human lives being lost during clashes between land grabbers and law enforcement agencies,” Ngaringombe advised.

ELLANIE SMIT

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