With the residents living in informal settlements across Windhoek expected to increase to 148 000 by 2020, Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua is worried about the snail’s pace at which government is moving to operationalise the Flexible Land Tenure Act. In the absence of the Act, those living in informal settlements have access to land but not security of tenure because some live on invaded municipal land and can therefore not use the land on which they live to raise capital.Kazapua said this during his presentation on the role of land reform in the eradication of poverty in Namibia recently.
“The Flexible Land Tenure Act is not yet operational pending a pilot project to test the draft regulation, which will be followed by amendments and gazetting of the revised regulation,” Kazapua said.
He added that flexible land tenure is needed to guarantee security of tenure to those living in informal settlements.Currently, an estimated 87 000 of the 325 858 Windhoek population live in informal settlements. But estimates indicate that the figure will increase to 116 000 this year.“It is our view as a city that the passing of the regulations is taking too long, as informal settlements are growing on a daily basis,” he said.
Kazapua expressed concern over the fact that 50 percent of Namibians do not have secure and tradable land rights because they live in rural areas and by extension are unable to use their land to raise capital.
“Land that cannot be used to raise capital is effectively dead capital. This means 38 percent of land in Namibia is dead capital. The 50 percent of the Namibian population that does not have secure and tradable rights, excludes people living in informal settlements in various urban localities in the country,” he said.
The mayor reiterated that land continues to be an emotive issue in Windhoek, and the influx of people from other parts of the country is not making the situation any easier.“It is common cause that the incoming people put a burden on land as they at most occupy land in the informal settlement areas. Planning and servicing land becomes cumbersome as a result of the influx of our people to the capital,” he said.
Potential land buyers have in recent years endlessly lamented the high cost of land in Windhoek coupled by astronomical housing prices, the situation has since subjected many low- and middle-income earners to renting properties.
Kazapua said council has policies to ensure that land is accessible to everyone.
“In passing, it is important to mention that the notion that auctions are bad is not really true. The council needs to cater for the investors in order to generate income that is expended in the provision of services to the majority of our people, as government does not subsidise the council in the provision of these services at all,” he said.
Kazapua added: “Policies have also been passed by the council with the aim of prohibiting auctions in ultra-low income areas, but investors surely create employment and boost the financial position of the council. The council should as a matter of fact also sell land to high-income earners in order to strengthen its own financial position as well as create a platform for cross subsidisation.”