Christmas came early for several high-ranking politicians and technocrats in the Oshana Region when the Oshakati Town Council last month dished them plots amid claims of corruption and conflict of interest.
Claims of corruption and conflict of interest have also surfaced after it emerged that several officials whose applications were being discussed did not recuse themselves from the meeting.
Oshana Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa, Gabriel Kamwanka (chair of management committee), Lucas Amushembe (deputy director for infrastructure and technical services), among others, are some of the high-ranking officials to got land. Damian Hamunyela (manager for finance and asset) also applied for land despite having received land in the past and selling it. His application was approved.
The officials want to construct an array of outlets such as flats, guesthouse, minimarkets and markets, office complex and a shopping complex, respectively. Kashuupulwa, who is a known fishing quota holder who already owns land, got land measuring 4 167 square Metres in Ekuku extension 2 for N$375 030 to build flats. Kamwanka, who is the chairperson of the management committee, chaired the meeting and in that meeting his application for land measuring 8 703 square metres for business purposes was approved.
Amushembe got land measuring 2 663 square metres on which he intends to build a complex. The minutes indicate that Hamunyela was one of the six council employees who got land from council in the past and sold it, these applications have been turned down. “The matter was referred back to the land and housing committee for further investigation, all employees who were given as from 2011 should not be given anymore,” states the minutes.
Hamunyela applied to buy Erf 1630 at Oshakati Extension 3 measuring 870 square metres, which is currently vacant. Council documents indicate that the Ministry of Justice was also interested in the said erf “but they were not forthcoming and there is no documentary proof that it was allocated to them”. The management committee, therefore, recommended that the erf must be allocated to Hamunyela for N$69 600.
A mid-level council employee who is privy to the recent allocations said it was dishonesty and unethical of the highest for high ranking officials to reward themselves despite being multiple land owners already. “This is a painful development but it is the harsh reality in our Council. Nothing is ever questioned and the poor people and those who are not well-connected are forced to beg for land,” the source said.
“They must lead by example, the fact that they already have land makes it even worse because this is tantamount to greed. Hamunyela was given land in the past but he sold it and now he is back asking for more, is this not corruption?” questioned the employee, who commented on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation. The decision to allocate land to Kashuupulwa comes months after he [Kashuupulwa] advised the residents of Oshana to desist from land-grabbing because the government would deliver 200 000 serviced plots to enable people to build houses.
He said at the time that government is aware of the plight of the landless and is set to address the problem.
“The governor warned residents of Ondangwa planning to grab land to refrain from taking the law into their own hands, stressing that grabbing-land would not solve the issue of landlessness. The country needs peace and taking the law into our own hands is not a good sign,” New Era quoted Kashuupulwa in May.
The land situation is so dire in Oshakati that in August several residents invaded the Omahenene location’s cemetery at Oshakati West and erected shacks on top of the graves. Last year, the government and the leaders of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) group signed an agreement to service 200 000 plots and the servicing of 1 371 plots at Ehenye in Oshakati is currently underway.