2. April 2015

Authorities get nervous on land policy

The City of Windhoek has taken a decision to repossess any plots sold to residents which are still undeveloped after a period of five years.
This resolution was taken at a recent council meeting in which the municipality also said it was working on a policy which will enable it to levy assessment rates on erven that have not been developed after two years.

However, the approval of the minister will have to be obtained first before the penalty rate is implemented. All erven sold after the year 2000 will be subjected to this penalty rate.
Windhoek councillors expressed concern about the fact that some residents have been holding onto land that has not been developed for many years, while applications for land are piling up, resulting in a backlog.

Swapo councillor Fransina Kahungu said the municipality is struggling to provide serviced land to people on the waiting list, while some people have owned land for over 10 years and have not developed it. Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Brunhilde Cornelius said: “Land is applied for and approved, but there is no development taking place on the land. The Local Authority Act gives us the power to reclaim such land.”

Currently the City of Windhoek has a backlog with 26 000 applications for land, some of which date back to 2004, says spokesperson Lydia Amutenya.

Amutenya told The Namibian in December last year that the municipality already had at least 12 000 applications for erven before a call by suspended Swapo Youth League leader Job Amupanda for the residents of the city, especially the youth, to submit more applications.

Under the Affirmative Repositioning banner, more than 14 000 applications were submitted to the Windhoek Municipality. This brought the total applications to 26 181 people on the waiting list. Last month during the nationwide 'land mass action' the Windhoek Municipality received 2 500 additional applications.

On Tuesday Amutenya added: “If the land is not developed over a period of five years, the city will recall the property and if it was paid in full a refund of 80% will be given to the owner and we will retain 20% of the paid amount. That clause is also stipulated in the sale agreement.”

She said members of the public also need to understand that they cannot apply for land and just sit on it. Thus the introduction of the penalty rate, which will help the city tighten its terms and conditions. Amutenya said five years is a reasonable period to develop a piece of land.

In a separate development, the new Justice Minister Albert Kawana sayd more than 20 pieces of legislation on Namibia's law books would have to be changed to help landless Namibians get access to both urban and farmland.

With amendments to more than 20 laws needed to help give Namibia's people increased access to land, the Ministry of Justice would have to strengthen its Directorate of Legislative Drafting to be able to draw up the necessary legislation, Kawana said when he addressed staff members of the ministry in Windhoek yesterday. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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