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LOCAL government minister Sophia Shaningwa will decide whether the Windhoek municipality should sell a plot worth N$1,2 million to continental reality television show winner Dillish Mathews.

The land measures around 800 square metres, and is situated in one of Windhoek’s most posh suburbs, Kleine Kuppe.

The city is partly divided on whether to give Mathews the land.
For instance, the city’s property department said she should be allowed to buy the plot, but she has to pay N$1,2 million unlike the offer given to her two years ago that was below market price.

The Namibian understands that politicians in the municipality’s management committee rejected Mathews’ application. The city council, chaired by deputy mayor Fransina Kahungu, met last Thursday and resolved to ask Shaningwa to decide whether Mathews should get the land. 

The law states that a private land transaction which has attracted public objections should be referred to the minister to decide its fate. 

The minister can approve or reject Mathews’ application, and direct the property to be sold or leased via public tender. 

Council documents made available last week show that the city received 19 public letters against the decision by the city to give Mathews a cheap plot.

“It is neither in the public interest nor in good faith that the above−mentioned erf be sold to the purchaser at the set amount that is grossly below the estimated value of the plot,” said one of the objections.

According to the objection, it is unjust to Windhoek residents who are subjected to exorbitant housing prices, and who go through the correct channels to apply for land.

“This is not in any manner professional, nor is it good faith to any applicant of land. It also sets a very negative precedent to all future sales and allocations of land. The public, myself included, have lost faith in the system, and do not at all believe that this should be the order of the day at the City of Windhoek,” the letter said.

The objector said the allocation of land to a selected few brings into question the legitimacy of many land deals approved by the city. 

“All Namibian citizens are entitled to and deserve to purchase land at costs that are affordable to them, and we all have families to unite and take care of,” the objection letter said. 

Mathews rose to stardom in 2013 when she won an untaxed N$3 million from the reality television show Big Brother Africa. 

Despite her millions, it appears that she did not buy property in Windhoek using her name. Ministry of lands documents dated February 2016 show that Mathews does not own property registered in Windhoek, unless she bought property via a company.

The objector said Mathews is able to purchase land at the original value. The Windhoek Residents and Ratepayers Association also rejected the transaction, saying Mathews’ fame is not celebrated by all Namibians. 

Ludwig Narib, the city’s property executive, said in council documents that public objections should be noted, but rejected.

“Ms Dillish Mathews had represented Namibia and the city well during her stay in the Big Brother house, and was ultimately crowned the winner of that competition. Therefore, the city considers her a responsible youth ambassador,” Narib stated.

The executive suggested that the plot be offered to Mathews at a market−related price of N$1,2 million. 

Former mayor Agnes Kafula, now a member of parliament, lobbied in 2014 for the city to give Mathews a prime plot at a low price. Mathews was special and represented the city on the reality television show, she said.

Kafula wanted the city to give the plot to Mathews as a gift, like former Miss Universe Michelle McLean and athlete Frank Fredericks.

Instead, Mathews was given a list of erven to choose from in Kleine Kuppe, Auasblick and Dorado Park. She chose a Kleine Kuppe plot. Whether the reality star will get her way will depend on Shaningwa, who has in the past told the city to reject fishy land deals.

Most people who objected to the sale of the Mathews plot also rejected the sale of land to Kafula’s son David. That deal is yet to be tabled in council since 2014.

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