…City bosses clips wings of property department
The City of Windhoek’s management committee will from now on handle all future cancellations of lease and sales agreements, a mandate previously held by the municipality’s property department, The Patriot can reveal.
In-house sources have, however, opposed the move saying disempowering the department could lead to redundancy while the management committee amasses “unnecessary power”.
The management committee resolved earlier this month that all cancelled properties be “afforded back” to the initial purchasers under the same terms at which the properties were initially sold, council documents seen by this publication can reveal.
The management committee meeting, held on 10 October 2016, further resolved that: “The Strategic Executive: Urban Planning and Property Management give the applicants 60 days … to finalise the sale through submitting a financial approval letter from a recognised financial institution and to sign the Deed of Sale.”
The minutes of the meeting further state that: “Should the applicants fail to sign the Deed of Sale within 60 days from receipt of the request to do so from the Strategic Executive: Urban Planning and Property Management, the allocation will be cancelled and the erven be included in the list of properties to be re-advertised for sale as per Council Resolution 194/07/2015.”
Earlier this year, The Namibian reported that 15 companies had their land deals cancelled by the city’s property department, but the Swapo-dominated management committee rejected the decision by the property division.
City officials, who chose to speak in secret, said the move is perceived as a blatant tactic by some politicians and executives to protect certain people who fail to pay for the plots on time, while poor residents are pushed aside as soon as they fail to settle their accounts within the stipulated timeframe.
“Our bosses were denying this. See now what they resolved. ‘All cancelled properties to be afforded back to initial purchaser at same terms, meaning if you bought a property in 2010 and it was cancelled due to non-payment, you get it back in 2016 at same terms even same price of 2010.’ Property management has no power to enforce the terms of the contract, management committee has that power,” said a source in the property management division, who chose to remain anonymous.
The media report further exposed how the municipality’s legal department wrote a legal opinion stating that the property department has no mandate to cancel sale agreements with land seekers without the authority of the management committee this year a position contested by sources in the department.
“The stand-off regarding the cancellation of sale agreements started after the council and its management committee decided to reverse a decision by the property department to cancel agreements for the sale of 65 plots sold at the 2014 Academia auction, worth over N$65 million. Municipal sources told The Namibian that the reversal order was issued after the politically connected protested about the prospects of losing their plots,” stated the newspaper report at the time.
The decision to strip the property department of the mandate to deal with land and sales agreements comes at a time when the city is facing an onslaught from the public for changing its information dissemination strategy from a more public approach to a covert strategy.
Unlike in the past when residents had access to recommendations made by the municipality’s management committee to the councillors, the new information dissemination plan means only resolutions taken by councillors will be made public.
This means the 300 000 Windhoek residents will be deprived of the opportunity to oppose or support policies recommended by the municipality’s management.
The management of the city also announced that it will discontinue availing documents containing discussions and recommendations emanating from the Management Committee to the members of the public and the media because “it is not allowed to do so by law”.