Swakop residents unhappy with municipality
According to the organisers, they resolved to demonstrate after the municipality reportedly failed to deliver on a promise to provide affordable and decent housing for some of its residents. The group also requested that the municipal council of Swakopmund announce the names of the beneficiaries of the mass housing scheme that were selected from the master list, as a sign of transparency.They want a response on the issues they raised within seven days.
The group's spokesperson Caroline Kasenda said that the N$ 10 000 income housing project that was introduced to accommodate the middle-income and low-income earners does not benefit everyone. "The Swakopmund district's N$ 10 000 income bracket earners cannot afford to purchase erven or a decent house. We are stuck in rented homes and shacks because only the most fortunate people are allowed and afforded better living conditions. Why can the local authority not make provisions for the N$ 10 000 earners to acquire loans to start up and get to greener pastures, instead of keeping us in the dark".
Kasenda said that residents only get relocated from an area when that particular area is about to be sold off. "The local authority tends to relocate people to the next dirty area only to come and again relocate the people after some time in order to sell that particular area to the highest bidders. People were relocated to extension 184 (airport side) as a temporary site and were told that they would be relocated within 21 days, however, the days turned into years with no strategic plan and options on where the people would be moved. When will we be able to afford housing in Swakopmund or are we going to keep being a tourist attraction because we are poor people that live in boxes, with the current economic crises, lack of jobs and retrenchments that happened during the Covid-19 pandemic."
Kasenda pointed out that some companies were awarded contracts to construct 250 houses and only 54 houses were completed. "Other companies received 16 houses on credit link. Only two houses were completed. The mines are given serviced land while residents have to wait for land to be serviced." She said that the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia is a tested housing group with a good track record, experience and knowledge. Why don't the authorities provide low-income earners with serviced land to build affordable houses.
Kasenda accused the municipal council of Swakopmund of breaking the law by being in breach of its statutory duty. "The council is in contravention and contradiction with the constitution. Council is busy violating basic fundamental rights and freedom as stipulated in the constitution that all persons shall have the right to acquire land and decent affordable housing, with respect to human dignity without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, ethnic origin, social and economic status."
She said that it is shameful and embarrassing for a municipality with such a good track record to only allocate 150 erven to a housing group to accommodate all its members after so many years, while, small towns such as Uis and Henties Bay are allocating more erven to its residents. "We want more plots to be serviced (400 to 800 erven) after every five years to bring about change in Swakopmund. This comes a long way and it is a document process. We have been communicating back and forth through letters with the municipality. It brought us nowhere. We are not fighting for a certain portion or extension we are merely fighting for the rights of the Swakopmund community at large. We are the voice of the voiceless, the eyes of the blind."
Swakopmund municipality's CEO Alfeus Benjamin received the petition. "We understand that you can have taken the time and effort to gather and submit this petition, and we appreciate your dedication to improving our community. We are equally here to state that most of the issues (if not all) raised are based on decisions council has already taken and started implementing since last year. We look forward (after council has discussed the petition) to further engage each other as we continue to implement these developmental decisions. We will keep you informed of any developments.