Gobabis mayor defends bypassing ministerial approval

Melba Tjozongoro

Gobabis mayor Melba Tjozongoro last week denied allegations that the Nuwehoop farm donation was unlawful, despite admitting the necessary approval has not been received yet.

She said they bypassed ministerial approval to save lives.

Tjozongoro and Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate allegedly made a land donation deal involving a 250ha farm without ministerial and council approval.

“The rationale here kicked in that while awaiting the approval, a preliminary letter to the governor’s office to secure funding from donors won’t harm anyone,” the mayor said.

Progress on the project is yet to be confirmed.

The Local Authorities Act states that donations should get prior approval in writing from minister of urban and rural development Erastus Uutoni and the regional council.

“There was no handover of farm Nuwehoop. When the time comes, it will be done officially and until today, we haven’t receive the approval letter from the minister, though it was sent a long time ago,” the mayor told The Namibian.

Tjozongoro wrote to the governor on 4 October last year and agreed to sign an agreement and give Nganate access to the land.

“I would like to inform you that the council is delighted to accord you preliminary access to the farm to start with your planning and processes due to the urgency of the matter,” the mayor wrote.

This letter was preceded by another letter, this time written by the chief executive, to Nganate to inform him of the council resolution to use the land.

Tjozongoro defended this letter, saying it was to enable Nganate to get funding while they await a response from Uutoni.

“This was to secure funding for the project. This letter is also clearly stating that this will be in partnership between the two entities. Remember council will be part of the agreement,” she said.

She further disputes that she met with the governor alone.

She said other councillors were present.

The governor, in his letter, indicated that he met with the mayor in his office with no indication that any other councillors were present.

He wrote in the 12 July letter: “the mayor, Melba Tjozongoro, allow me to fore mostly applaud you for your foresightedness that resulted in us having a fruitful deliberation with a positive and favourable outcome.

“Pursuant to the fruitful discussion we had at the meeting held yesterday 11 July 2023 at my office; I herewith wish to formalise our discussion by way of this missive as confirmation that the meeting deliberated.”

To this, Tjozongoro responded: “This means, the 11 July 2023 letter from the governor Nganate, which is in question, was never a discussion between the mayor and the governor at all, but it was a council deliberation in the council meeting and consensus was reached by the councillors and this will be in a partnership with both offices, Gobabis municipality, not mayor’s office and the governor’s office, once approved by the minister of urban and rural development.”

Nganate last week said the process of acquiring the land is not related to food provision.

“I don’t see how those questions contribute to my project of food systems and I believe the correct people to respond to those questions are the owners of the land, who gave the land and to whom and how,” he said.

The minister says he needed more time to obtain information on the matter.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News