Swapo backbencher Festus Marenga. PHOTO: Contributed

Swapo backbencher Festus Marenga is criticizing the mass housing project as not being a pro-poor, affordable and viable vehicle to address the plight of the needy citizens. 

Marenga, during a recent speech in the National Assembly, noted that this project benefits the middle income group and the well-off.

He added, the project is a milking cow “of the fittest to improve their wealth”.

The project was launched by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2013 to provide low cost housing.

“The only self-proven pro-poor and affordable housing schemes are the Build Together and Shack Dwellers (SAAMSTAAN) projects,” said Marenga. 

“If we want to make our process of shelter provision to the poor more affordable, accessible and effective, we must fully fund and upgrade these two projects to fast-track the process of housing provision,” he explained. 

His remarks preceded a recommendation by a High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) to President Hage Geingob, advising the government to allocate land to all those in informal settlements in urban areas for free and at no cost. 

The panel advised that the allocation should not be done on the basis of affordability and market economics but as a measure of social justice. 

Land question

Furthermore, Marenga advised that the recommendations of the 2018 National Land Conference must be studied and rolled out immediately.

“The report of the Ancestral Land Commission must be speedily finalised and put into action where necessary.

The expansion of smaller communal areas such as Ovitoto, Aminuis and Otjimbingwe need urgent attention. The government must buy adjacent farms and allocate such farms for this purpose.”

Resettlement 

According to the legislatorthe resettlement process is completely ineffective, inefficient and very far from solving the land reform process. 

“The advertisement of five farms for allocation to a population of two million is completely impactless. 

“A better and viable system of acquiring farms for resettlement must be developed and adopted, which will be implemented hand in hand with the constitutional provision of land expropriation (Article 16. Sec. 2) in the public interest.”

He explained that the government is  currently giving more waivers for farms to be sold to private individuals even foreigners than acquiring farm for resettlement purposes.

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