City proposes debt swap…a deal with the government could yield up to 20,000 erven

The city of Windhoek has approached the Department of Urban and Rural Development with a proposal to write off its debt – owed to the central government – in exchange for large tracts of land in the capital’s informal settlements.
Windhoek Mayor Fransina Kahungu told New Era that the city owes the government about N$700 million, including interest, after signing a handover agreement for various projects dating back to the period 1994-1999.

Windhoek City Deputy Mayor Ian Subasubani announced at a council meeting last week that the local authority had written to the line ministry, for consideration by Cabinet, in a bid to speed up the provision affordable housing.
“The city is busy with various development projects that aim to improve informal settlements in order to improve the lives of residents living in informal settlements.

Therefore, donating land to the government so that it can clear debts the city owes the government to service residential plots in informal settlements is part of the plans,” he said.

The city received four on-lent loans for different projects in the 1990s from the central government. If achieved, the proposed deal could see the council make available between 10,000 and 20,000 erven for residential land in the informal settlements. The proposed debt swap is done with the aim of accelerating the provision of affordable urban housing and subsidizing plot ownership by the central government.

According to Kahungu, the proposal, if approved, will swap the land occupied by the residents of the informal settlement for an existing debt owed to the government by providing tenure to the residents with the provision of basic services. The mayor said the town was borrowed N$11.2. million euros in 1994 to upgrade and extend Windhoek’s existing water supply, sewage, electricity and road systems based on the 1996 Windhoek Structural Plan and associated master plan for a number of sectors. She added that in 1997, the loan amounting to N$65.1 million was received and used for water harvesting at the Goreangab water treatment plant and pumping station. midway and to the pipelines to the reservoirs. “In 1999, the city of Windhoek received two loans in September and October. A loan amounting to N$71 million was used for road improvements such as the Southern Link Roads, paving of Katutura Streets and Robert Mugabe Avenue. It was also used to finance the extension of the water supply in Goreangab, laboratory equipment as well as the replacement of sewers in Windhoek. It was then used for the loan management system and the cross-linking extension,” she explained. Kahungu said the fourth loan of N$51 million was used for various small projects, covering several sectors including low-cost housing in Otjomuise, electricity supply, sanitation, street paving and solid waste collection.
Asked for comments, the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni confirmed having received the proposal. He said they would study the document with other stakeholders including the Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Commission before a final Cabinet decision.

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At work… Fransina Kahungu, Mayor of Windhoek.
Photo: Nampa

2020-11-03 Law Jason

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Naomi C. Amerson