Battle for Oshakati’s Omatala

THE Oshakati Town Council finds itself heavily divided over the sale of prime land which has for decades been used as an open market and a long distance bus terminal.

The council’s division stems from factions fighting over the selection process of the successful bidder for the land which is to be developed in the northern town’s central business district.

The land up for grabs is Erf 1342, measuring 1,7 hectares, and situated along the Oshakati main road near the Game shopping complex, Etango complex and Okatana service station.

Former Oshakati mayor Katrina Shimbulu said the council is split into two camps one calling for a more transparent selection process, while the other wants a businessman who has not met the requirements, to get the land. Councillor Shimbulu suggested that councillors be removed from the process of selecting the best bidder to ensure that a competent tender board of the town council deal with the matter.

She said there is a smear campaign against her and other councillors currently in process.

The Namibian has established that a list of prominent businesspeople as well as politicians want to lay their hands on the plot and that includes companies owned by well-known northern businesspeople Frans Aupa Indongo, Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba and Benjamin ‘BH’ Hauwanga.

Council sources told The Namibian this week that two Chinese-owned firms are also in the running. These include a company owned by Chinese millionaire and owner of the Oshikango-based Dragon City, Jack Huang. The other Chinese-owned company goes by the name of the Sun Group.

A company owned by former chief executive officer of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund Jerry Muadinohamba is also among the bidders, while another firm comprised of youthful businesspeople includes deputy finance minister Natangwe Ithete, while businessman David Imbili also applied.

Hauwanga’s BH is in a joint venture with Ezzy Import and Export Diamond owner Kamrudin Bhanji, who pledged N$2,2 million to the ruling party last year. The BH, Ezzy Import and Export joint venture is believed to be leading the pack, due to alleged lobbying by top council members.

The Namibian has also learned that several councillors were flown out of the country on an all-expenses-paid trip to China.

Oshakati Town Council management committee chair Gabriel Kamwanka is accused by fellow councillors of pushing for the application that will make the BH proposal successful.

Kamwanka told The Namibian that he does not take council decisions individually. He declined to comment further. Efforts to get comment from Hauwanga were not successful.

Indongo, Shapumba and Hauwanga wanted to develop the property under a joint venture but their joint bid has been shot down by council.

Shapumba told The Namibian this week that there seem to be two councillors who were against the open market to be developed by one company instead of their joint venture.

Shapumba said a joint venture is the only way forward to avoid squabbles and favouritism. “If a handful of us meet all the criteria, how will the council decide who to award the land to? If the town council finds itself in such a position, the inevitable result is that they will choose their favourite,” he said.

“I don’t understand why we are all fighting for the piece of land when it’s for the benefit of the people of the area. Let’s buy the land so that the town council can have money to develop undeveloped areas in the town, such as to bring development to informal settlements around the town and also to assist the street vendors and those selling at omatala (market), for example to build them good toilet facilities and so on,” Shapumba said.

The Oshakati Town Council liaison officer Jackson Muma confirmed that 11 companies made presentations for the land. Muma said the town council has not picked a successful bidder yet.

Source : The Namibian