Ghetto Assistance Centre blames councillors for expensive land

26 Jul 2015 15:20pm
SWAKOPMUND, 26 JUL (NAMPA) - The skyrocketing land prices in Namibia should be blamed on Local Authority councillors, says Fritz Gowaseb, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Ghetto Assistance Centre (GAC).
GAC is a close corporation started in September 2014 with the aim of providing assistance to those who lose their shacks due to fire or any accident - assistance such as rebuilding shelters and providing victims with necessitates such as blankets and food until they can resume with their lives.
Gowaseb said the company was started by four individuals, including himself, who invested more N.dollars 700 000.
They are not making profit at the moment, and the 15 employees on the payroll are paid from the money invested.
He said the company is currently in the process of registering homeless people in a bid to provide them with low-cost housing. This is done though developing virgin land which they apply for from municipalities.
Gowaseb also noted that the company has money to service land if it is made available to them.
“This whole issue of unaffordable land was caused by the same people we voted into office to serve us.
“They bring in developers who increase the prices, and on top of that Local Authorities auction and sell such land at very high prices,” he said in a media statement availed to the media here on Thursday.
Gowaseb said the town mayors and other councillors should declare their properties and prove they acquired it legally, as he believes most councillors have used their positions to gain properties and also give to friends and families.
“If you want to see how quick a councillor gets rich, come to Namibia - the same person who came into office with nothing, just like myself, will own many houses and cars in a short period.
“How is that possible if there is no corruption?” asked Gowaseb.
He continued that mayors should be appointed on full-time contracts, as they need enough time to attend to the needs of the communities.
“If a mayor is a full-time employee at a certain mine, how do you expect that person to be in the council’s office all the time?” he questioned.
Gowaseb continued that his company applied for virgin land from almost 20 Local Authorities across the country, including Swakopmund, but has not received any feedback.
He said municipalities asked him to make presentations on how he plans to develop land and sell it at prices lower than the current rates of serviced land in Namibia. However, he is still awaiting feedback after his presentations.
Asked by Nampa how the GAC differs from private developers, he said: “We are different because we are not here to make quick money when our focus is on eradicating the shacks”.
Gowaseb warned that the land issue will destroy the country’s democracy if not solved immediately.
He said if democracy is messed with then everyone is affected, hence all Namibians must work in unison to reduce land prices and make housing cheaper for all.
Approached for comment, Swakopmuns Mayor Nehemia Salomon, who is also a management committee member, said servicing land is very expensive and thus prices are high.
“Servicing of land is a lengthy and expensive process where you have consultants, contractors and evaluators all doing their part and need to be paid.
“If we had enough money we could service the land and sell it cheap, and although we try by all means to make the land cheap it is very difficult for the municipality alone,” said the mayor.
He said this year, the municipality made a decision not to give land to private developers to allow the council to develop land itself and sell it cheaper, as developers sell serviced land at high prices.
“For instance, a 350 square meters (m2) serviced erven can be sold by the municipality at N.dollars 200 000, but a private developer will sell it for N.dollars 400 000,” said Salomon.
On town councillors using their positions to gain properties, Salomon said he did not acquire any property illegally, claiming: “I am one of the unfortunate few who do not even have a house; I am still renting from someone”.
As for GAC’s land application, the mayor said if the application came through it will be attended to like all other applications.
“Allocating land is not just a quick process. So, if they applied for land and did not get feedback maybe they need to be patient as we will respond to all land applications within the shortest possible time,” said the mayor.