By Risco Lumamezi
A group of Choto residents residing along the riverbed (Mulapo) have turned down the offer by Katima Council, to relocate them to the higher grounds.
Katima Council has given them a notice to move to their new plots by December this year; failure to obey will result to eviction.
The concerned residents have vowed under the umbrella association called Native Small Traders Association (NASTA) that they are demanding Katima MuliloTown Council to service their plots instead of evicting them. They also want the Minister of Urban and Rural Development to intervene on the matter.
Mr. Beavin Simasiku Mulijani, Chairperson of NASTA told Caprivi Vision that “ Mulapo community are not going to be fooled by Katima Mulilo Town Council over promises of serviced plots while it’s clear that has a debt with Nam water, how will she afford installing water ?”
Mr. Mulijani asked how Katima Council will afford servicing the new extension if it has failed to maintain roads in town. “Now our stance is to have both plots not swapping old erf with new ones”
He added that Katima Council must legitimize all riverbed plots to its owners by demarcating and restoring old plots, and should install water on each plot, and should stop the system of sharing water sources, and he however, suggested that Mulapo plots should be declared business plots for the owners and given residential plots automatically since the 2004 survey which they are implementing advised them that these plots floods, but have value.
“Katima Mulilo Town Council must not use swapping system in relocating Mulapo residents since the situation is not deliberate action but is deemed naturally”
NASTA chairperson also warned KMTC to request a court order to remove all foreigners who occupied plots and have owned plots through land grabbing without Namibian identity documents to make way for landless Namibians to own even a single plot in the country.
“The council must know that Mulapo residents are ready to improve their plots and want to build permanent structures, should she fail to provide services in three months; we shall head for courts for redress”
However, a concerned Choto resident who have been living in her plot since 1994 when she was moved from Lewis compound Ms Sepiso Numwa lashed out that the Katima Council did not justify since they have been staying in their plots for quite a long-time, after the forced removal from the old location some years ago, in 1994 when they were moved from Lewis.
“The riverbed which they are talking about we don’t see it, why did they give us these plots after we have finished clearing the plots”
She expressed concerns that the purchase price for her new plot was increased from N$3000 to N$17,000 compared to her old plot.
“We were told to move in 2008, and Mr. Muyoba came to us recently door to door telling us that we should move because they were send by the president”
Ms. Numwa also asked that “where is that N$33 million for compensation and why didn’t they renew our plots?”
Another concerned resident Mr. Fabian Lwezi, also raised his opinion that “am not going anywhere they should tell us why the president want to remove us where will we going to get money for buying our housing materials, are we not Namibians we have IDs and voters’ card, our parents fought for this country we want the president to tell us that we are not Namibians”
Mr. Richard Simwamba a 74 years old man who is having two plot numbers, 523 and 524 has this to say“am having two erf numbers when we moved from piggery compound in 1994 and 1995 now piggery it is just a bush why did they chase us, we came here to Choto which means that we are fine this place was called Mavuluma where lions and elephants used to stay but we cleared it now it is clean”
“In 1994 and1995 the flood they are talking about is not true, therefore if they chase us out then they should also chase out Caprivi Senior Secondary School because it is also flooding by rain waters”
He pointed out that the riverbed which stretches from the former Zambezi Lodge now called Protea Hotels,Nambweza location, New NHE 3, Katima Council fire station, sport field and Hisham’s Choto Open Market they are all located in the same riverbed , he quashed they were not chased away.
“They also put their sewer systems and a pump station in the same riverbed, this is rain water it’s not flood, what is flooding us is the rain they are several places which are flooded here in Choto”
Mr. Simwamba further suggested on the ongoing rain waters which used to flood Katima Mulilo as the cause of poor civil engineering works which are not properly planned and he therefore suggested that “I suggest to the KMTC to come to people, they should erect the channel where water can flood into, there was a riverbed in the past at the old Katima Open Market but they constructed it, so why can’t they do the same”
Ms.Julieter Shaka shared her sentiments that she was told to move because her plot is flooded, and the street protrude her plot “they started in 2008 to move us and we used to ask them why but they don’t want, they have allocated new plots to us where there is no electricity and water I have never seen a meeting which is done door to door, and we are not moving”
According to Ms. Mary Sakoi (66) the owner of the permanent house who also lives in the same riverbed, but was able to service her plot stressed that “when they gave me the plot in 1999, they helped me with a gravel, what I want from the council is that they should erect a bridge so that the flood water can move away”
The amused Choto resident further explained that “I have finished paying for my plot what I’m waiting for now from Katima Council is the title deed certificate”
Contacted for comments to hear how true allegations were, Katima Mulilo Town Council Public Relations Officer Mr. Crispin Muyoba confirmed to this paper that they were allocated with new plots in 2012 to move to the upper land because of the reasons that where they are was not properly planned and was in conflict with the law.
“most of them they have moved and others who are still there are just renting, every rainy season we have to relocate those people so now this year we want everyone to move because they were already given where they are and others they didn’t finish building, so they are just a few who are saying they are not going but those who are saying are not going are even staying there they are already staying at their plots.”
Mr. Muyoba refuted allegations that they received the directives from the state president to relocate them “sometimes people want to put the state president in rubbish, that thing was already planned during formalization of Choto and was discovered by the experts that for the people who are residing in mulapo… to bring in the president it is just nonsense because him as the custodian of the Namibian constitution and who took the oath cannot allow people to live in a riverbed so the president can question us and what are we going to answer”
He added that if the mulapo residents continue to resist then the council will alternatively not allow people to live in the riverbed and will either negatively not going to provide any basic services and awarding them title deeds which guarantee them to secure funding to any financial institution.
“ they might think that is a good thing today , but they are disadvantaging their children for the future, it is better for them to move so that they get a piece of land where they can get a title deed which can make them to get money for them to move on with their life”
He assured them that the council will not allocate their old plots to other people, instead of making stories as they want to politicize things because they want to be councilors.
He further announced that they should leave their premises in December this year and should cooperate with the Katima Mulilo Town Council.
He however, divulged that the council still has to take the final resolution on relocation and compensation of the concerned Mulapo residents in Choto.
Choto is laterally means that “ we don’t care or we are fine” this name came after the forceful removal of the residents in 1994, after the Local Authority of Katima Mulilo moved them from the informal settlement areas called piggery and Lewis compound.
This is a stronghold of the ruling SWAPO party in Katima Urban Constituency and the local authority with more population; most of the people still using an open air toilets, plots and streets are still informally congested.