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Former Oshakati Mayor defends allocation of 40 plots


Katrina Shimbulu

The former mayor of Oshakati, Katrina Shimbulu, has recently come under fire for the allocation of 40 plots to her company three years ago as well as facing allegations from council sources that she is receiving preferrential treatment from town council on missing deadlines on her housing project that is behind schedule.

Shimbuli, a Swapo councillor, received 40 plots at Ekuku from the Oshakati Town Council in 2017 for a housing development that would be completed in 10 months. It has been reported by The Namibian that Shimbuli applied for land in 2014 through her company, Kamwiitulwa Electric Building Construction CC, to construct 100 houses in 10 months.

The Oshakati town council's chief executive officer at the time, Werner Iita, wrote to Shimbuli that council had agreed to sell her the 40 plots. This sale was based on the condition that she had to complete three show houses in five months. This agreement was co-signed by the then chairperson of Oshakati's council management committee Gabriel Kamwanka.

Two years after receiving the go-ahead to build the model houses Shimbulu wrote back to the council on 5 April 2017 that the three houses, valued at a combined N$1,9 million, were ready.

A council meeting held on 14 June 2017 discussed several items, including Shimbulu's 40 plots at Ekuku.

She was part of that council meeting as Swapo councillor at the time. Minutes from that meeting do not show that she recused herself from the meeting that discussed her application.

Council resolved that day to give Shimbuli's company 40 plots for N$1,2 million to construct houses for middle and low income earners. She bought the plots for N$30 000 each. Around 20 houses valued at N$360 000 were set to be constructed for low income earners.

Shimbuli admitted that she received the land for the housing project.

Furthermore, she has said that project has been slow to implement after failing to build 20 houses of the 40 houses she was supposed to erect since 2017.

“You can only build when there are customers ready to move in. People on the list do not qualify for bank loans to buy the houses. These issues have been brought to the council,” Shimbuli said.

Shimbuli denied allegations that she has received preferential treatment from the council.

She said she followed procedures of acquiring developmental land, including recusing herself from the meeting that took the decisions on her plots.

Shimbuli insisted that she was a developer before she became a councillor in 1997.

“I don't work in the council. My daily job is construction. I am not the only one who received land,” she told The Namibian last week.

She said there were no objections when her land deal was advertised in newspapers.

Oshakati acting chief executive Kornelius Kapolo told The Namibian last week that council has been asking for progress reports from all the developers.

The reports will be tabled at the upcoming council meeting to assess the progress of all the developers.

“In general, there are some developers that experience challenges in delivering both technically, administratively or financially. The council shall sit and see those challenges and pronounce itself on the shortcomings,” Kapolo said.

The town council decided in 2017 that the houses should not be transferred to Shimbuli but rather directly to buyers.