Monday 17 May 2021
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The 200 000 plots that never was

Mathias Haufiku

Mathias Haufiku

When Government and the Affirmative Repositioning(AR) movement signed the landmark agreement which was supposed to pave the way for servicing 200,000 plots countrywide and the subsequent suspension of the planned mass land grab on 31 July 2015, thousands of Namibians breathed a sigh of relief.
But less than nine months later, President Hage Geingob shockingly informed the nation during his State of the Nation Address that during the remainder of his term 20 000 houses will be built and 26 000 plots will be serviced under the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
“What about the other 174 000 plots?” many of you probably asked yourself.
This news came as a shock because last year Namibians felt that  Government actually listens to the concerns of the masses and that it stands ready to take criticism, of course provided that the criticism comes with solutions to the problems identified.
So fruitful were the six-hour deliberations that AR instantly called of its planned 31 July land grab. Less than a year after the agreement was struck, the nation is at crossroads again over the land issue which Government has seemingly rescinded on.
Government will now only deliver 26 000 plots in the next four years.
After all, who can blame Government  as they never set a timeframe in which the agreed upon 200 000 plots were going to be delivered. Everyone was so excited that 200 000 plots is coming their way.
The current housing backlog across the country is estimated to be over 110,000 and is growing at a rate of around 6,000 per year.
With a housing backlog increasing by the day, finally Namibians felt the housing woes are soon to be a thing of the past.
No one probed the finer details of the contract regarding the timeframe in which the plots must be delivered. Now we are all left with eggs on our faces because the absence of a clause regarding the timeframe was omitted and is being used to change the agreed terms.
Deep down in our hearts we all knew that the cost of servicing 200 000 plots in the current economic climate was a pipedream. The mega project will cost nothing less than N$25 billion, a third of our national budget.
Are we really honest with ourselves when we castigate Government for changing the terms?
As much as Government claim the country’s fiscal position is healthy, we all know the situation is not as rosy as the politicians make it seem.
Anyone will be forgiven if they say Government knew all along that the deal would not materialize under the current administration, but the question one has to ask is, why is the current administration pretending not to have known that the country cannot afford to embark on such a project? Why make such a public commitment? Was it merely to stop the planned land grab acts?
Political scientists will tell you that the move was good for Government on a temporary basis, but in the long-term it will surely dent the credibility of this Government.
The populace will not have reason to buy into deals that Government enters into.
Government during another meeting with AR committed to make the the rent control board operational as a matter of urgency to resolve the issue of high rentals and accommodation woes.
It was also agreed that the Prime Minister will summon the Estate Agents Board to review and address the escalating property prices before 1 August 2016.
If this is a standing law and we all agree that the astronomical rent prices are inhumane, why then do we need three-and-a-half months to summon the Board. Can we not set a shorter deadline?
Rent prices are a cash cow for property owners in most towns, especially Windhoek. So much so that some property owners are at ease to turn their garages into bedrooms.
The situation is so precarious that landlords have develop a no-negotiation approach when they are approached for accommodation. Who can blame them, they know all too well that the desperation levels for housing in Namibia are worse than that of a terminally ill man desperate to stay alive.
Lawmakers need to address the anomalies in the housing sector. This is a fact they need not be told, but in case they forgot, let us remind them that the housing issue needs to be attended to as a matter of urgency.
Geingob likes the phrase ‘’peace is boring’ when referring to those who want to disturb peace in the country, but I am sure, when you are left out it is hard to abide by the ideals of peace, especially when little is being done to make things right.

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