Veico in fishy land deal ... Deputy mayor gets 43 hectares

April 17, 2015, 1:23pm

Veico in fishy land deal ... Deputy mayor gets 43 hectares

THE Windhoek municipality sold large tracts of land close to Rocky Crest to its deputy mayor Mwadhina Veico (photo) and businessman Titus Nakuumba, despite objections from its executives who were against the transactions.

Veico's company is one of a few well-connected, handpicked property firms that are set to profit from the ongoing housing crisis, after she got part of the land officially known as Windhoek Town and Townlands No. 31.
The municipality gave Veico land measuring 43 hectares (about the size of 43 football fields), while a consortium that includes real estate businessman Nakuumba got 50 hectares in an adjacent area. The city is now evaluating the price of the land in question.
Several managers at the municipality were against the sale of the land to the company owned by the deputy mayor, and that of Nakuumba, since it contravened earlier council resolutions and pointed to preferential treatment of the two.
Veico got the land close to Rocky Crest and Otjomuise at the end of 2013 through a company she owns and is a director of, known as Kamake Properties.
Even though council minutes said Veico excused herself from council meetings when the land was allocated to her, municipal sources said councillors caucus on what will happen before council gatherings on what will be decided.
Veico and her partners named as Koneka Nakuafila and Mcdonald Modise want to build a shopping centre, a three-star hotel, a hospital, apartments and a recreational park, an investment that would be worth over N$1 billion.
Proof that the land was not to be sold is in a letter written on 27 March 2013 by Ludwig Narib, the manager at urban planning and property management. Narib told Kamake Properties that the land will only be sold later on the open market by tender and that their application will not be considered.
He said the land would be sold by tender after an assessment of the land was completed. The municipality made a U-turn and sold the 43 hectares to Veico's company eight months after the letter was written.
Besides Narib, the department of economic development was also against selling the land to Veico, arguing that the council should respect its previous decision, which was to first carry out an assessment on how the land will be used before selling it.
“The issuing and allocation of land in the absence of a properly structured plan will lead to haphazard designs, with irreparable damage,” the department said.
The department said it is important that Windhoek is designed in a way that it accommodates all aspects of town planning to ensure a functional city.
“Preference cannot be given to some developers by allowing occupation as other applicants may expect the same treatment from the city, and this will jeopardise the Spacial Development Framework planned for the area,”the economic department said.
The framework was a proposed research that would include a guideline on how the land in question would be developed.
Veico has refused to respond to text messages and did not pick up her phone for comment.
Despite the concerns, the municipality under the then the leadership of former mayor Agnes Kafula and current mayor Muesse
Kazapua, who was her deputy, decided to give the land to Veico.
Kafula and Kazapua led the council which sold the land to a fellow Swapo councillor despite opposition from some municipal executives who said the land was not supposed to be sold to only one company but on public tender.
Another land beneficiary is Nakuumba, a co-owner of property and construction firm Afrikuumba.
Like the deputy mayor, Nakuumba also got the deal despite concerns of contravening council decisions and giving special preference to some businesspeople.
The city gave Nakuumba's consortium land measuring 50 hectares despite concerns from the water department that there were problems with the shortage of water supply in the city. Afrikuumba initially wanted land measuring around 400 hectares in Rocky Crest.
Afrikuumba applied for a PPP deal with the municipality, but ended up getting the agreement to buy the land. The company wants to service 5 500 erven.
“Our people need housing, as you know, especially in Windhoek. The city has many challenges to deliver serviced plots; we applied for the land and got approval as we can assist the city to overcome these challenges,” Nakuumba told The Namibian on Wednesday.
Nakuumba said that they have completed the environmental studies.
“The only issue (that) came up was a proposed bridge over the B1. We are also ready to fund that if the city does not have the funds,” he added.
Nakuumba has been a darling of municipal deals over the years. Afrikuumba currently occupies a part of the Ramatex building. His company is the biggest mass housing recipient with the responsibility of building over 3 000 housing units in Windhoek.
The allocation of land to Nakuumba and the deputy mayor is part of the bigger fight for Windhoek's undeveloped land, especially in Rocky Crest, where well-connected businesspeople are lined up by the city to get around 400 hectares.
The Namibian reported last week that Rocky Crest, a suburb in Windhoek, has become the latest target in the lucrative scramble for land by property developers in what has been described as get-rich-quick schemes.
Mayor Kazapua was one of the political leaders who presided over several land deals despite being warned that the business model has been used as a cash cow by some developers.
Deputy mayor Veico joins a list of councillors who got land for themselves cheaply while serving in the council. Others are mayor Kazapua, ex-mayor Kafula, former deputy mayor Gerson Kamatuka and Swapo councillor John Moonde.
 
By Shinovene Immanuel: The Namibian