THE KHOMAS Regional Council has locked horns with the City of Windhoek over the arbitrary sale of old and underprivileged people’s houses in the high-density suburb, which regional councillors say is reversing gains from the country’s independence.
Director of Planning and Development for Khomas Region, Ben Mulongeni, confirmed that the regional council was making efforts to lobby government to repeal all laws that give the municipality of Windhoek and a host of other financial houses, the right to sell Katutura homes in execution to recover owed debts.
“Regional councillors are doing research to see what can be done to assist the urban poor. They are currently debating the plight of the old pensioners in Katutura Central and Katutura East, most of whom have no stable income and no alternative rural homes,” Mulongeni said.
Mulongeni lashed out at city councillors, whom he branded as “business councillors” for their obsession with financial gain for the city against the suffering of thousands of disadvantaged people, who are frequently losing their houses over debts as little as N$800.00.
“The people are coming to regional councillors for representation, because city councillors are business councillors, they are dictated by the nature of the business they do,” Mulongeni said.
The 33rd Ordinary Council meeting of the Khomas Regional Council recently concluded, that the regional council would approach the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Pendukeni Iivula Ithana for a possible review of municipal housing laws.
Records from the Messenger of Court show that at least 33 houses were scheduled to be sold in Katutura alone between June 3, 2008 and August 3, 2008. A minimum of two houses in the suburb are sold in execution every week to recover municipal or other institution’s debts.
This has created headaches for the regional councillors, who are seen as political representatives of the people in their constituencies, and have garnered political support on promises of more affordable housing, access to water, electricity and other basic amenities.
Mulongeni called for a review of government’s entire regional development structure, which he says unfairly excludes the urban poor.
“There are people who were born in the Old Location, who have lived in the city for generations. These people do not benefit from government programmes like drought relief, because they are considered as falling under the Windhoek constituency, despite being equally poor and disadvantaged.”
“Politically there is a councillor for Windhoek rural, but economically Windhoek rural constituency does not exist, therefore the provision of services to people in these constituencies is limited. We are battling with all the relevant ministers to review this setup,” he said.
Khomasdal North councillor, Margaret Mensah said the Magistrates Act 32 of 1944 was creating problems for the regional council by giving municipality and financial houses permission to sell poor people’s houses in execution.
“Under this law people don’t get a chance to go in front of the magistrate. The municipality has the right to just go to a clerk of court and attach your property.”
Mensah said the messenger of court and lawyers were working in cahoots in the sale of houses. “A lot of houses that have been sold belong to people within that close circle (lawyers and messengers of court) and they are renting it back to our people.”
The regional council has since sought legal advice from the University of Namibia and is working on pressuring government to act.
“We are busy; we are fighting for that law to change. The whole liberation struggle was for land and housing. It is also unconstitutional to disconnect people from basic services like water. We are worsening the housing situation and denying our people the dignity they deserve,” Mensah said.