Banking on Sophia’s wisdom

19 June 2015

The Greek word Sophia means wisdom in English. While it is plain silly to suggest that President Hage Geingob had this in mind when he appointed Sophia Shaningwa as the Minister of Urban and Rural Development,

there is no doubt that wisdom is needed to deal with the land issue in the country. 

Minister Shaningwa has been in the headlines more than any other minister since the new Cabinet came into office in March.

Like her boss, the minister has been making all the right noise since her elevation and we praise her for her passion and energy.

Unfortunately, she has had to work extra hard because of the many corrupt land deals that have come to the fore recently. Reading about dubious land deals has become our daily bread and we seem to have accepted that this is part of our lives.

But that should not be the case and that is why we are proposing that the minister should set up a special task force to investigate the shenanigans at the different municipalities across the country where those in power have been parcelling land amongst themselves, their proxies or relatives without shame.

Swapo Secretary-General Nangolo Mbumba is on record saying that the party will investigate alleged dubious land deals at the City of Windhoek. It has been more than eight months since he made that pledge, but we are yet to hear anything about the said investigation and its findings.

Perhaps Mbumba was more worried at the time about the alleged corrupt land deals tarnishing the image of the ruling party ahead of the November Presidential and National Assembly election. We doubt that he was ever sincere.

While all the municipalities and town councils must be investigated, the ministry should start with the City of Windhoek where well connected individuals have become land barons overnight.

Surely, all the questionable land deals that have been highlighted in newspapers deserve some sort of reaction from the line ministry, if not government.

Former Windhoek Mayor Agnes Kafula became public enemy number one because of her involvement in a number of dubious land deals and nothing was ever done to her.

As the second highest placed woman on the Swapo parliamentary list, she might have been punished by not getting a ministerial post, but we think that is not enough.

We are not against enterprising individuals who want to make an honest living, and let’s face it; real estate has been a good investment in this country. But what we cannot condone is people using their political, tribal or village connections to go ahead in life at the expense of others. The playing field must be level and set rules must be followed.

If the minister goes ahead and sets up a special task force, she will obviously make a lot of enemies, but it is a price that she should be willing to pay.

No wonder why there are lot of vested interests in the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer at the City



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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