NHE sets the record straight
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19 June 2015
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news nhe 19 juneThe National Housing Enterprise (NHE) Board of Directors has strongly denied accusations that it acted unilaterally when implementing the collapsed mass housing programme.

 

The board dismissed the allegations in a letter written to the Minister of Rural and Urban Development Sophia Shaningwa on 5 June 2015.

The letter was sent a week after Shaningwa decided, in consultation with the mass housing ministerial committee, to put the housing initiative on hold.

Shaningwa put brakes on the ambitious initiative after the housing parastatal failed to secure adequate funding for its implementation.

The minister said that the NHE had entered into contracts when it did not have the means to fulfil its financial obligations.

“There is documentary evidence proving that NHE was given a directive to implement the programme without delay numerous times,” the letter from the NHE board reads.

“There were also regular consultation and joint decision making between NHE and the ministry.

“To this end Honourable Minister we wish to put on record that Mr. Castro addressed the Tender Panel during its first session for the mass housing tender allocation in December 2013.

“He stated that the former minister [Charles Namoloh) had seen the list of contractors and had pre-approved it, therefore he requested the Tender Panel to approve and award the Mass Housing Tenders as per the submission.”

The board further explained that the NHE held several meetings and consultations with the ministry’s former permanent secretary on the budgetary allocation for mass housing.

To support their claims, the NHE board attached a set of correspondence between the ministry and the board outlining the sequence of events from the initial stages of project implementation.

“We wish to state that the implementation of the mass housing programme has been hampered by a lack of funding, unavailability of serviced land and the inability of local authorities to allocate completed properties to beneficiaries,” the letter concludes.

An NHE official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that some of the minister’s proclamations made it evident that no one had properly briefed her about the mass housing programme, if at all.

“When one listens to some of the accusations of the minister one begins to wonder whether her special advisor has conviently chosen not to properly inform her of how things have played out.”

The official added that Castro was not only the special advisor to Namoloh, but also the project manager for the Mass Housing Initiative.

He said Castro was at the centre of all decisions made in connection with the mass housing project.

“Why is Mr. Castro suddenly quiet when all hell has broken loose? We have consulted him on every decision made, and he gave us instructions and directives on behalf of the ministry for almost everything.

“Even the housing designs and pricing (the amount a contractor can charge per square meter) was worked out in consultation with the ministry and Mr. Castro.”

The source further said time has now come for the public to know that the NHE did not take a single decision without consulting the line ministry.

He revealed that contractors had complained that local authorities in certain parts of the country were not able to service land at their pace of construction.

“The ministry decided to take that function away from NHE and give it to local authorities, who let’s be honest, could not cope, but no one speaks about some of these challenges.”

Initial contracts signed with contractors, made provision for contractors who were able to service the land themselves.

“We made the ministry aware that some of the contractors were willing and able to service the land.

“In these instances, if the local authority did not have the capacity or kept the project behind schedule, they could use the contractors, but the ministry shut that idea down,” the source said.


Castro declined to comment when contacted. He said he had no mandate to make public statements with regard to the mass housing project.

He also said that he cannot comment on matters related to his working relationship with the current minister until he received permission from her to do so.

Minister Shaningwa brushed off questions about whether she had been briefed properly about the mass housing project saying she has the ability to read and comprehend documents presented to her.

“I can read and understand all the information that has been provided to me, including the financial ones, therefore I’m not dependent on someone to tell me this or that,” she said. – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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