Apr 02, 2012

Rehoboth Basters: Argument Over Sale Of Land

The Baster community protests the decision to auction some land in Rehoboth, claiming the move is illegal.

Below is an article published by AllAfrica:

Baster Kaptein John McNab and the United People's Movement (UPM) are objecting to the auctioning of 43 erven in Rehoboth that is taking place today, suggesting that the auction is illegal.

McNab said the Baster community feels that the sale of Rehoboth land is illegal if done without the consent of the Kapteins-raad (chief's council), as stipulated by the ancestral laws (voorvaderlike wette) of the Basters.

The Baster chief further said the auctioning of land is problematic because Minister of Regional and Local Government Jerry Ekandjo had indicated in January that he would not approve any land sale transaction in Rehoboth.

McNab maintained that the Rehoboth Town Council cannot prove that it has the approval of the minister to sell the erven.

He said the funds raised from land sales in the town are being used to pay the salaries of council staff instead of on capital projects or the upkeep of infrastructure.

"Take note that the Rehoboth Baster gemeente [community] holds you personally responsible for all illegal land transactions," McNab stated in a letter to town council CEO Theo Jankowski.

The UPM said residents have on numerous occasions requested erven from the town council but were told that there were none available.

Residents have also expressed the opinion that auctions pushes up land prices out of reach of average people.

Jankowski made it clear that the auctioning is legal under the Local Authorities Act, and that the council does not need permission from the Baster Kaptein to do so.

"It is interesting to note that he [McNab] obtained an erf through the Local Authorities Act," responded Jankowski.

He added: "Who said that we have to put money from land into land? The council does not function in compartments."

Equally, he said, the two UPM council members have not objected to the decision to auction off the land.

"They want to sabotage the council. At no stage did they register their objections; they are part of the decision," he said.

Jankowski further said Minister Ekandjo had commented in his personal capacity on the auctioning of land, but for the moment, there is no law that prohibits it.

"I agree 100 per cent with the minister but the law has not yet been changed. But I do agree that there must be land for the poor; we also want erven to be cheaper."

The bottom line, said Jankowski, is that the council's financial situation is dire and it needs to generate money.

The sizes of the erven range from 450 square metres (which has a starting price of N$60 000) to 1400 square metres (with a starting price of N$130 000).

The last auction of erven at Rehoboth was in April last year.