By Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) has dismissed claims that the houses being constructed at 1B and 1C of Otjomuise Extension 10 might be overpriced due to the involvement of a private firm.
Owned by local businessman Titus Nakuumba, property developer CalgroKuumba (Pty) is the private firm in this instance.
However, a highly placed executive in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development in a recent interview dismissed this assertion, saying CalgroKuumba indeed agreed to make the houses affordable.
“Those houses will cost between N$ 300 000 and N$ 800 000. No house will cost more than that. But CalgroKuumba is financing everything, not the government.
To protect the buyers, we stepped in and said the houses must be affordable and they agreed. We [government] are not spending a cent on these houses,” said the official about a month ago.
These remarks were made in response to insinuations by officials at the City of Windhoek (CoW) councillors during their June council meeting, and later to the local media.
MURD’s dismissal also follows allegations by councillors and officials at CoW that the City is being forced to accede to a proposal to sell phases 1B and 1C of Otjomuise Extension 10 for N$ 58.6 million to CalgroKuumba (Pty), because of an agreement entered into between the MURD and the developer in 2018, which it was not a party to.
The land in question forms part of the land on which houses for the Mass Housing Development Programme are being constructed in Windhoek.
“You do not want to go into the [the way] mass housing [was done].
We will get into trouble. What we want is to achieve the government’s [overall] objectives [for mass housing],” CoW Chief Executive Officer Robert Kahimise admitted during their monthly meeting, further fueling the reality that the City’s hands are tight in the deal in question.
Under normal circumstances, the land in question should belong to the municipality, while a developer is in charge of construction-related matters, as is the case in other towns.
This situation, according to a City councillor did not happen by accident, but by design.
“There is not much that we can do [to stop the sale]…this was an in-house deal which was done nicely to suit whoever it was going to suit…this [contract] was developed by a person who was advising the ministry,” Swapo’s Fransina Kahungu said.
To this, MURD responds: “If people have evidence on any wrongdoing as it is being seemingly alleged here, let them bring that information forth and the culprits(in corruption or insider trading) should be held accountable.”
CalgroKuumba’s executive director, Nakuumba in a letter seen by The Patriot also dismissed claims that his company unfairly benefited from the government programme.
“Clearly, everything was done above board and there was no insider trading here unless you doubt the collective intelligence of MURD and the AG’s Office,” Nakuumba said in response questions sent to him.
Nakuumba-Kaumbi ties that bind
On the insider trading allegations leveled against his company, Nakuumba denied knowing his company’s current business developer, Uazuva Kaumbi at the time.
Kaumbi and other officials at MURD stand accused of having facilitated the process that led to his company landing a N$ 350 million contract in 2013 to build houses for the government under the mass housing scheme.
His denial comes at the back of allegations from officials at the City of Windhoek that Nakuumba’s company got preferential treatment in the government’s procurement process as there were individuals representing his interests at the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
The allegation stems from an agreement that saw the City of Windhoek avail land to MURD.
MURD then gave this land to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) for the Mass Housing Development Programme in 2013.
It was at this stage that NHE entered into a Public Private Partnership which was dubbed the Mass Housing Scheme.
The deal in question is alleged to have been tailor-made to favour another of Nakuumba’s company, Calgrokuumba – which is set to buy land from the City for N$ 58.6 million.
Kaumbi was a senior manager for technical services at the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and formed part of the tender panel that awarded the tender to the company he now works for, Afrikuumba – of which CalgroKuumba is a subsidiary.
Kaumbi joined Afrikuumba in May 2017 as its business developer, just a month after he resigned from NHE, it was reported.
According to Nakuumba, Kaumbi, despite being part of the tender panel was completely unknown to him but the two only got to know each other during the implementation of the mass housing project.
He also denied that Kaumbi is conflicted to be working for Afrikuumba, considering the position he occupied at NHE.
He added: “You will recall that Mr. Kaumbi had a legal battle with NHE about their refusal to shortlist him for the position of CEO, but he lost the legal battle. At this point in time, the NHE contract with Calgrokuumba was already cancelled in 2015 and was replaced by the one with MURD in which Mr. Kaumbi had no involvement whatsoever.”
He further denied all allegations levelled against him and his business empire.
He further explained: “After losing his legal battle, he started looking for employment because his relationship with the NHE Board was damaged beyond repair, and he knocked at various doors.
At that time, Afrikuumba was having a vacancy for a Business Developer, and he was offered the position based on his qualifications and experience. Please note that Mr. Kaumbi is not employed by Calgrokuumba, but by Afrikuumba, which are two separate legal entities.”
On its part, the MURD ruled out insider trading in the allocation of mass housing tenders.
‘If people have evidence of any corrupt activity, because what you are calling insider trading amounts to corruption. Let the people come up with information. We have ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] there which is prepared to take action immediately. So, if people have evidence on any wrongdoing as it is being seemingly alleged here, let them bring that information forth and the culprits should be held accountable,” officials at MURD reiterated.