Long time serving national facilitator of the Shack-Dwellers-Federation, Edith Mbanga has warned the country’s bureaucrats against coming all the way from leafy suburbs and impose solutions of formalising informal settlements.
Mbanga was speaking in the presence of deputy minister for urban and rural development, Klazen… where he called for shack dwellers to be a part of the municipality’s planning process.
“We know our needs and we are willing to service land ourselves. We can’t wait for government to bring services. It will take long. Allow us to start small, we are not worried about the size of he land,” she said.
Mbanga and her federation have been hailed by Affirmative Action (AR) prolific activist, Job Amupanda who said that they have built half the number of houses built by government without a budget since independence.
By her admission, Mbanga said they had built 4 800 houses and aims for 500 more, half the 8 000 which Amupanda said were delivered by the government.
Amupanda used strong words to paint a sobering picture of the brutalising effects of shacks were exposing children to, due to living in very restricted spaces.
“As we are having this discussion there has been a child in informal settlements last night who has seen their parents having sex in that one bed-room shack. Now that child will grow up later to be a Kablou or whatever, a criminal or somebody who is mental disturbed. Some of you do beat your wives, but in the comfort of your private rooms,” he said.
For him, the housing crisis is a deliberate creation of the ruling elite whom, he said, benefits from it by maximizing profits from the sale of land.
He said that 20 000 young people applied for land in Khomasdal paying for N$500 each for application forms which saw the municipality pocketing N$1 000 000.
However, Klazen… who did not fully agree that housing should not be a profiting venture for government said the profits maximization has to be lowered.
“We need to look at how to build houses cheaply, less than N$500 000. Land can be for free but services put to the land are expensive,” he said.
He fundamentally differed with experts who have come out to say that housing should be treated as a basic human right need citing that for as long as the money-making-model was being used, it would take many years to solve the housing backlog.
Instead, some have proposed that government should rather make money out of the services it provides.
Others have cautioned government to approach its hyped PPP model with caution, a move which Klazen said was a way out of the crisis.
He did however disclose that government would be bankrolling the Shack-Dwellers-Federation with N$10 million to build houses on an annual basis.