City Sells Prime Plots Despite Objection

THE council of the City of Windhoek has gone against a recommendation of its management to halt the sale of prime land worth more than N$60 million, amid alleged “conniving” among some councillors to push the deal through.

Windhoek mayor Agnes Kafula announced on Wednesday night that a political decision had been taken to sell to Holme Investment Namibia, a plot situated in the centre of the city, close to the popular restaurant Wine Bar, and also blasted the management for delaying developmental projects.

Holme Investment Namibia is a company whose majority shareholders are from Luxembourg with 27% owned by unidentified “previously disaantaged Namibian women,” although no proof of that ownership was provided to management.

The land sold to Holmes, comprises several plots which will be consolidated into one, pending a technical agreement. They are erf 146 worth N$9,5 million, erf 147 worth N$8,5 million, erf 148 worth about N$9 million, erf 152 valued at around N$8 million, erf 150 valued at N$18 million and erf 6577, which is worth N$9,6 million.

The decision to sell the land for a price that is yet to be finalised was taken, despite objections from the department of planning design and traffic flow of the municipality, which suggested that the sale be delayed for six months while the transport master-plan of the city was being finalised.

“It would be in the best interest of the city not to sell these properties at present while the city appointed an urban designer to look at ways how to revitalise the central business district,” the department said.

The department also questioned why the city was not establishing a tourist hub or bus depot that were initially proposed.

“Therefore, it is recommended to put all applications on hold pending the outcome of the urban investigation or redesign,” the officials aised.

Swapo councillor John Moonde suggested that the deal be referred back for more information.

“Honourable councillors, this is not the first time we are doing alienation of properties but what we have done before is different. I think it needs more details, so that you can defend yourself [from lawsuits],” Moonde said.

Holme Investment Namibia promised to invest N$2,5 billion and offer some of their properties as office space to the municipality but they are waiting for the council to determine the price of the six plots.

Other companies that wanted the land include NDI Holdings, Ghandy Properties who offered about N$25 million, YaNegumbo Properties who offered N$32,8 million and Shamrock Investment CC whose managing director Collin Venaani offered the city N$57 million.

NDI Holdings, a company owned by David Imbili, planned to build a Nujoma Square. Imbili was among prominent businessmen who were charged in February this year with corruption stemming from the B1 City development.

Those who publicly supported the sale were Kafula, deputy mayor Muese Kazapua, councillor Gerson Kamutuka and Chief Executive Officer Niilo Taapopi.

Kafula criticised some in the management for not doing their work and said the council could not wait longer. She also accused some of the staff members of intentionally removing companies from the list of potential investors, pretending that the businesspeople were out of the country while they were in fact in the country.

“If you did not do your work, tough luck, we are going ahead with development,” Kafula told the officials she accused of delaying development and said they needed to pull up their socks as their tactics were turning away investors.

Deputy mayor Kazapua called for leaders to be visionary and innovative instead of being stagnant. According to him, unless there is an agenda against the proposed project, it should go on in order to aance development.

Taapopi admitted that there were councillors concerned that some politicians might benefit if the million dollar plot is sold but said it is also delaying their plans.

“We know also that there are people conniving against us, delaying it. Why can’t we do this,” he asked.

Taapopi’s five-year contract comes to an end this year and he said that he wants to leave a legacy. “Some of us who are going also want our names mentioned during our time,” he said.

He said if the sale was not in the interest of the municipality then that fact should be raised.

“But if you know of somebody [a councillor] connected to the selected company, that is a different thing, people can declare their interest, one can go to the Anti-Corruption Commission and say that this guy connived or this councillor did this and this,” he said.

Source : The Namibian