Report Confirms Mass Housing Fight

IT’S not business as usual for the National Housing Enterprise and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development on the implementation of the mass housing programme.

Although NHE and the local government minister, Charles Namoloh, have in the past denied any bad blood between them, a legal inquiry commissioned by the parastatal confirmed that the relationship was sour because of various reasons, such as exorbitant prices and delayed funding.

The leaked 17-page report that was compiled by NHE’s legal representatives, among them Esi Schimming-Chase, highlights concerns from the ministry and NHE. Senior NHE officials confirmed the existence of the commissioned report yesterday, while Schimming-Chase’s mobile phone was unreachable yesterday after efforts to reach her on Friday were also unsuccessful. Hailulu and the NHE manager: corporate communication and marketing, Eric Libongani, were said to be outside the country.

The evaluation from Schimming-Chase comes about two weeks after The Namibian reported that attorney general Albert Kawana had recommended that NHE should be relieved of its role of running the project.

The Namibian understands that President Hifikepunye Pohamba has summoned NHE chief executive officer Vinson Hailulu and Namoloh for a meeting at State House tomorrow over the running of the project.

Namoloh will be accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Kawana, and the National Planning Commission’s director general, Tom Alweendo.

Kawana declined to comment on the meeting, referring questions to Namoloh who did not pick up calls from The Namibian late afternoon yesterday. Alweendo too did not pick up calls, while Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s phone was off.

On the eve of that meeting, The Namibian sums up the concerns raised by both the local government ministry and NHE, which claims to be in the dark concerning the issue of funding.

UNDERMINED MINISTRY

The report reveals that the then permanent secretary in the local government ministry, Sirrka Ausiku, wrote to Hailulu on 7 April 2014, requesting NHE to renegotiate the Windhoek mass housing contract because of the “unauthorised increase in the number of units targeted in the first phase, resulting in over commitment of resources, contractor overhead value, proposed contract period and average proposed price of N$6 000 per square metre”.

Ausiku’s letter confirms a recent report by The Namibian that Hailulu tried to increase the housing units for the Windhoek contractor – Afrikuumba Construction, a company owned by his in-law Titus Nakuumba – from the initial 1 191 houses, at the cost of N$345 million to 2 550 units at the cost of N$885 million.

Another red flag raised by Ausiku was compliance with standard performance measures stipulated in the contact, proposed contract value and the splitting of house categories.

The Namibian reported recently that government was not happy with the process during which NHE awarded construction contracts without following government directives and sidestepping procedures.

The legal report revealed that the ministry informed NHE to renegotiate prices “of all signed and unsigned contracts to ensure that the rate is minimal and affordable and to liaise with Namoloh’s special aiser on the mass housing project, Gabriel Castro, who should be part of the negotiating team”.

The directive for Castro to be on the negotiating team was the second such call from Namoloh, who issued the same order on 13 December 2013. NHE was also told that decisions taken by Hailulu must be done in consultation and communication with the ministerial aiser on the project.

A month after that directive, Hailulu clashed with Castro over how the project should be implemented after the Cuban consultant questioned some aspects of the project such as the price of contracts. NHE lawyers said Hailulu told them that he had “extensive engagement” with Castro on the cost of the project.

SERVICING LAND

Another bone of contention is whether NHE should be the custodian of servicing of land, which is to be used in the mass housing project, as fears are that the companies that have been shortlisted or given the tenders to service land might take government to court.

According to the report, Hailulu aised the ministry that the idea of discontinuing the land service mandate from NHE after they completed the pre-qualification process could bring complications.

“Hailulu specifically aised that discontinuation of the contract process could be interpreted to mean that the government, through its agency NHE, has created certain irregularities, which could result in some of the companies seeking legal redress. On that basis, Hailulu aised that the processes should be allowed to continue,” Schiming-Chase said in her report.

The lawyer also admitted that the ministerial instruction to strip NHE of the function of servicing land appears lawful.

She could not find any provision in the law which gives NHE the mandate to service land, a point she said can be used by NHE to cancel or withdraw the pre-qualification of land servicing tenders.

Schimming-Chase drafted a letter for NHE to send to the ministry. In that letter, NHE warned about possible legal threats [which will last for two years] if they renegotiate all the mass housing contracts, including the Windhoek housing tender, which has now been halted.

“With regard to the renegotiation of the contracts in respect of the project in Otjomuise, NHE has already signed contracts and is now bound by law to honour those contracts,” the draft letter stated.

NHE warned that they were willing to renegotiate those contracts as instructed, but they fear of consequences if the companies that won the tenders decide not to amend the new terms.

THE COMMITTEE

A technical committee, comprising several permanent secretaries, accused NHE of awarding contracts to undeserving companies, despite rules stating that local contractors should have a track record of having built a minimum of 250 housing units, technical and financial capacity, quality and extensive experience.

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Latest comments

I am gly want the government to fire Hailulu,CEO NHE, this men is a corn artist, for so many years without caring the poor people but greedy to enrich him selves. I thing is time for the Rtd Gen to fire him he must go. NHE was established to help poor people, NHE houses prices are very high and Erf, are very small and of poor qualities. This is theft for sure we don’t need this thieves to continue eating money in a expenses of the poor. Mr President we need your decision now not talking fire the tthieves. – kavenoshili | 0000-00-00 00:00:00 || Comment id: 39072

Should the SWAPO government allow these contractors to go a head it means you pump money to RDP and DTA which will strengthening their campaigns. – Taani nakangobe | 0000-00-00 00:00:00 || Comment id: 39071

Gov must not use NHE for the second phase of the mass housing scheme. NPC and line ministry should sit down and plan to the benefit of the poor masses of his nation. – Dousnet | 2014-06-02 08:11:00 || Comment id: 39052

NHE as failed and continues to fail its mandate to provide affordable housing to Namibians. Why has Hailulu’s contract renewed time and time again when he is clearing FAILING the nation? Who is fooling who here? Government must sort this mess out or most of us without housing will not vote come November or any other elections for that matter. – @KapanduH | 2014-06-02 08:07:00 || Comment id: 39045

NHE as failed and continues to fail its mandate to provide affordable housing to Namibians. Why has Hailulu’s contract renewed time and time again when he is clearing FAILING the nation? Who is fooling who here? Government must sort this mess out or most of us without housing will not vote come November or any other elections for that matter. – @KapanduH | 2014-06-02 08:02:00 || Comment id: 39044

One need to be a fool to see that this mass housing scheme will not be sustainable, At these rates, the poor men, for whom these houses were meant will not afford them. Once again only the rich will profit from this scheme, the housing backlog will remain large, some houses might even remain unoccupied. Our Politicians once again showing their incompitence at ruling this nation. – SHAXMAN | 2014-06-02 07:54:00 || Comment id: 39043

Total article comments: 6

Source : The Namibian