Minister buys land for a song

06 February 2014 Author   Da’oud Vries

front land 07 febTHE City of Windhoek sold a property in Kleine Kuppe at a substantially reduced price to a deputy ministry after the politician complained that she could not afford the price set by the municipality. The municipality agreed to sell Erf 664 measuring 817 square metres in Kleine Kuppe’s Conception Street for N$1,078,400 by private treaty and not auction to the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Hilma Nikanor. However, after Nikanor objected to the municipality that the amount was much higher than the first valuation certificate issued to her on 4 July 2013, the municipality reduced the price by almost two-thirds to N$345,000.

 

In her appeal, she said it “has now put me in a big dilemma, as I have earlier not based my decision with regard to the application on such huge amount”.

In her objection letter dated 10 October 2013, Nikanor says that the purchase price of the piece of land is “quite high and unaffordable for me at this stage”.

“It is against this background that I would like to request council to kindly re-consider a price within the limit of your Municipality’s Special Project on housing,” Nikanor says in her plea.

The deputy minister used the official letterhead of her office for her private communication to the municipality.

In an earlier communication on 2 October 2013, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Windhoek Niilo Taapopi informed Nikanor that a council meeting on 26 September 2013 had agreed to offer the land through private treaty to Nikanor.

The reason they gave for their decision was “because of her portfolio (national leader) while the policy addressing the sale of single residential properties to national leaders is being developed”.

The same council meeting also determined the price of the property at N$1,078,400, “as indicated on the valuation certificate”.

The municipality then revised the purchase price and issued a new valuation certificate setting the price at N$345,000.

According to the council minutes, the municipality revised the price based on the deputy minister’s motivation that the price was “too high and unaffordable for her at this stage”.

The Council directed the management of the municipality to sell the erf “at an escalated upset price and not the market price”.

The municipality normally sells land at the market price and not the upset price, which only reflects the cost of developing the land.

It issued a new valuation certificate for the erf on 15 November 2013 in which it charged Nikanor N$422.28 per square metre.

This square metre price charged to the Deputy Minister is substantially lower than the going rate in Kleine Kuppe, which is between N$1,000 and N$1,500 per square metre, according information obtained independently by the Windhoek Observer.

Two properties in the same vicinity where Nikanor’s property is situated sold in 2012 for N$1,103 and N$1,400 per square metre and would have sold for more 18 months down the line due to inflation.

An irate Windhoek resident said that the price charged to the deputy minister was much lower than the square metre price of erven in Katutura.

“Why does she want to live in an upmarket area if she cannot afford the prices there? She must go and live where she can afford,” the resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said.

In her letter of appeal, Nikanor called on the municipality to reconsider the price within the municipality’s “special project on housing”.

The Windhoek Observer inquired from the municipality what this special project is and whether it is applicable in upmarket areas as well.

The newspaper sent this as well as other questions about a deal that appears to smack of favouritism and preferential treatment to a politician to the municipality on Tuesday morning, but by the time of going to print officials had failed to respond.

It also emerged that the City of Windhoek has started developing a policy to address the sale of single residential properties to “national leaders”.

The municipality could not clarify questions about whether this policy aimed to give preferential treatment to “national leaders” and how it would define those leaders, but no reply came as Mayor Agnes Kafula left town on Wednesday.

The newspaper emailed the questions to the public relations department, which forwarded the questions to the Office of the Mayor.

On Thursday, the Office of the Mayor replied that all relevant people that deal with inquiries were out of town.

WINDHOEK OBSERVER

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