Africa 27.2.2015 01:44 pm

Thousands ready for mass land applications

Close-up aerial photo of Swakopmund (Namibia). PICTURE: WikimediaCommons taken by Brian McMorrow

Close-up aerial photo of Swakopmund (Namibia). PICTURE: WikimediaCommons taken by Brian McMorrow

Thousands of young Namibians queued at municipal offices on Friday, following the call of a youth activist to submit written applications for land in urban areas.

“We have received the go-ahead from the Namibian Police and the Association of Local Authorities of Namibia (Alan), which sent letters to each municipality in the country informing them of the mass applications and to be ready to receive them,” Job Amupanda told a Sapa reporter on Friday.

“From eleven o’clock this morning the application forms will be submitted. We asked all applicants to do this in an orderly and peaceful way.”

In Walvis Bay people had been queuing since early morning. The municipality had erected signs with the words “Land Applications”, in what appeared to be the biggest peaceful mass action since Namibia’s independence in 1990.

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) activists had used social media to organise the mass action and to distribute template application forms.

Police chief, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga, said they would “not hesitate to take action” should the mass application exercise become unruly.

“The police are prepared and ready. Peace must prevail,” Ndeitunga said on Thursday during the inauguration of a new police station in Windhoek.

Amupanda carried out a first application campaign last November, when some 14,000 youths submitted their forms to the Windhoek municipality.

The secretary of the ruling Swapo party’s youth league, Elijah Ngurare, encouraged young people to submit their applications for a plot.

“Go out in numbers on Friday, the week after and beyond and place your application for land to your nearest local authority. It is legal to do so,” Ngurare wrote on his social media page.

Swapo leaders criticised the mass action and urged members not to participate.

On Monday, Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba called it “an ongoing campaign to instigate landless people against government structures and eventually against the Swapo party.

“The position of the Swapo party on this issue is that these efforts to disrupt peace and stability in our country must be rejected,” Mbumba said in a statement.

Amupanda was the information secretary of the Swapo Youth League, but was suspended late last year after he illegally occupied an empty and unserviced plot in an upmarket Windhoek suburb for two days.

Due to soaring prices for houses and flats, and high rentals, particularly in Windhoek, developers buy large tracts of land to build tiny but expensive townhouses.

High living costs are increasingly frustrating ordinary Namibians who cannot afford even modest accommodation.

 

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