SPYL’s Illegal Land Deal

THE Windhoek municipality is rocked by two more questionable large-scale land transactions done without proper procedures.

One involves a company owned by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), while the other firm is owned by businessman Leake Hangala.

A municipal document seen by The Namibian last week shows how land acquired by a SPYL firm is branded partly illegal after it got 50 hectares – which is 20 hectares more than initially agreed by the council.

The city is also fuming at how a 58-hectare plot in Auasblick, worth over N$60 million, was improperly sold to a company owned by former NamPower managing director Hangala.

SPYL owns a majority stake in a consortium which bought 50 hectares in Cimbebasia for N$70 million through its company Donor Investments that partnered the Science and Development Group owned by Elias Shanyengana.

Together they formed the Youth Development Initiative Trust, which is 70% owned by SPYL, while Shanyengana, the son of the aiser to the President on media, Mukwaita Shanyengana, owns 30%.

Sources said some partners are being kept a secret.

The 50 hectares (50 football fields) sold to SPYL can accommodate over 1600 stand alone erven that can be sold for N$280 000 per 300 square metres.

A municipal legal opinion obtained this year said part of the agreement -signed by former municipality chief executive Niilo Taapopi and chair of the management committee Moses Shiikwa last year with the youth- ignored council and was signed unprocedurally.

Council and the local government ministry only approved 30 hectares to be sold to the youth group and not 50 hectares as signed.

“The purported agreement entered between the city and the youth development initiative has been null and void from the beginning. Council cannot ratify an unauthorised and unlawful act on behalf of the signatory andor the city officials,” the memo said.

Council agreed in 2012, by former mayor Agnes Kafula’s proposal, to give 30 hectares situated close to the Country Club to the Swapo youth consortium for N$40 million. The project was conferred special status. The legal division is now accusing the youth of negotiating in bad faith.

“They (youth) knew all along that only 30 hectares was approved by council and that the 20 hectares will only be approved once they have satisfactorily completed the development of the 30 hectares and therefore they cannot claim that they assumed that the city officials had authority to enter into agreement to sell 50 hectares of land,” the legal memo said.

Some city managers said there was “no council approval for the sale of additional hectares to the youth development initiative and that the transaction entered into was unknown to council, hence illegal”.

Swapo’s youth want to build a science facility, houses, apartments and sell some plots through public private partnership.

Executives at the municipality said the youth deal should go to urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa to approve or decline the 20 hectares. Shaningwa has in the past said that people should not get large tracts of land, calling it greed.

Shanyengana, who chairs the youth trust, said the project is aimed for the youth and that they cannot be blamed for the contract that gave them an extra 20 hectares since they did not draft it.

SPYL is a middleman since it did not spend a cent in the deal. Shanyengana admitted that the SPYL did not invest money in the project but he also insisted there was nothing wrong with buying land under a trust.

Even though SPYL is insisting that they own the majority of the consortium, council sources said some youth leaders complained about attempts to kick them out of the deal.

SPYL secretary for economic affairs Imms Nashinge said they are still the majority shareholders and that the deal dates back to 2008 when they wanted 200 hectares.

Veikko Nekundi, the SPYL deputy secretary who is now a parliamentarian, was in charge of the economic portfolio when they applied for the land.

Nashinge said SPYL spotted the land while the managers at the city “were sleeping”.

Nashinge, who is part of the youth demanding land, questioned the timing of the legal opinion, saying the same should be done with previous dodgy deals at the municipality.

“Those who are calling us greedy must go and commit suicide,” he said. That deal was supported by the city’s land delivery manager Steven Hochobeb, who said the transaction was overdue.

Hochobeb was castigated by fellow executives for handling land deals that do not resort under his office.

The same Hochobeb witnessed Taapopi and Shiikwa sign land deals measuring 150 hectares to three well-connected firms for prices not officially approved by the municipality.

This includes 42 hectares to a company co-owned by former Telecom Namibia managing director Frans Ndoroma, 50 hectares to the SPYL and 58 hectares to Hangala Holdings, a company owned by Leake Hangala.

Hangala bought the 58 hectares plot in Auasblick Extension 1 for N$58 million with his friend Taapopi and Shiikwa last year through Sinco Investment Sixty One which trades as PPH Auasblick to service land and sell it in a PPP arrangement. Like Ndoroma and the youth trust deals, council and executives were ignored in Hangala’s transaction.

Source said a council meeting will be held to recommend that the contracts be renegotiated with the three companies.

“Renegotiate for what? If they did not follow procedures then that’s not our problem. As far as we are concerned we signed a legal document,” Hangala said on Saturday.

Hangala described Taapopi as a “very good family friend” who he has known since they were together in exile. He however rejected suspicion that their relationship influenced the decision to give him land. “There were other professional people involved in the negotiations,” he said, adding that he followed procedures by negotiating with Taapopi and Shiikwa. Taapopi denied any wrongdoing.

Source : The Namibian