By Katau Ka Namugongo
The recent pronouncements by President Hifikepunye Pohamba about the “mass affordable housing scheme”, valued at N$45b, has opened up the question; who owns the land in Namibia?
In principal, we know Government, the municipal councils and a tiny group of landlords own the land. Logically speaking, the reality on the ground dictates otherwise.
According to statistics, 95% present of the vast majority of Namibians do not own any land. Land, in its current form, has become a very lucrative and highly expensive commodity in Namibia.
The fundamental objective of the Namibian struggle for freedom and national independence was to repossess the land. It is a fact land, as a natural recourse, is the corner stone of all social and economic development of any nation and country. As a human race, we emerged from dust and we will make our sustenance from it and when our journey on this world ends, we shall return to land, our final resting place.
President Pohamba is right by predicting an imminent land revolution in the country if after 23 years of independence people are not yet satisfied with the equitable distribution of land and resources to all beneficiaries in the country.
In the 1970s, bold commitments were made throughout the world to deal with three central development challenges facing the world; poverty, environmental deterioration and the empowerment of people through increased participation in the development process. This principal has totally been ignored by our Government, which has today embarked upon new development plans, schemes or programmes to solve the burning issues facing the nation.
The “mass affordable housing scheme” is just but one of these new Government initiatives. While we can talk of progress being made, it is inconsequentially relative to the magnitude of the people’s needs.
First, Namibians want Government and its lawmakers to change the current legal system of acquiring land or property; a place one can call “home" or "shelter”. The current process is inherited from the apartheid system, which was aimed to deprive the vast African majority access to land and property ownership. The system is aimed at making Namibians perpetual slaves to the financial oligarchy, the banking institutions that are the main beneficiaries and real property owners in the country.
We are all forced to legally obtain loans from financial institutions in form of bonds or mortgages, which normally have a long repayment span of up to 30 years. Even though one may be accorded a title deed stating the property belongs to them, in reality, it does not, because until they fully settle the financial institutions' loans, they'll remain slaves of the financial gurus who have the legal instruments to repossess the property at will by default.
Whether we like it or not, this legislation empowers financial institutions to have overall authority over land acquisition and development while financing is the main noose around our necks. Thus, the fundamental question President Pohamba and all the lawmakers should ask themselves is; how can they get the nation out of this quagmire?
Whether or not Government proceeds with the “mass affordable housing scheme”, the fundament questions will remain; who will own these houses? Where will the funding come from for the prospective home owners? And above all, who are the main beneficiaries of this mega N$45b project?
Before proceeding with the implementation of this project, Government should first clarify some burning issues such as: Approaching the current legal instruments pertaining to housing and as a matter of urgency, reduce the period of repayment of bonds from 30 to ten 10 years, compulsory; establish strict monitoring and evaluation procedures on granting loans to prospective applicants; monitor and control the quality of construction besides the quantity, to ensure rogue companies do not get away with it; since the funding is from TEEPECT, monitor the provision of employment creation by setting compulsory standards to ensure the full purpose of the project is achieved.
Minister of Defence, Nahas Angula, has spoken about the coming revolution to be led by the youth. He is right, because it is the youth who will suffer the consequences of our present mistakes. Just like the previous crop of youth who spearheaded the political and military revolution to liberate the country from apartheid, so shall the present youth embark upon a much more devastating socio-economic revolution with severe consequences aimed at achieving the dream to 'Namibianise' the means of production in our country.
I am concerned about developing new capabilities in the field of development management, responsive to these development priorities. I have looked at the needs for new people-centred planning tools, for the re-orientation of development bureaucracies using social learning technologies and for programming strategies aimed at empowering people and communities. My conclusion is to put emphasis on the process of change.
Both President Pohamba and Angula predicted a possible revolution or change, which is imperative. The following five foundational principles of change will lead us to a scientifically oriented solution to the housing problem we face in Namibia today:
(1) Nothing on earth is as permanent as change,
(2) Change is continual,
(3) Everything changes,
(4) Change is inevitable, and
(5) Change is a principle of life and creation.