Namibia: Oshakati Small Business Owners Left Stranded

About 20 owners of small businesses at Oshakati say they have been left without an income after the Oshakati Town Council allegedly sold the property where they used to operate their businesses.

Council resolutions from the Oshakati Town Council show that the council resolved to sell the property measuring 2 094 square metres to an entity called Multiliver Property Development CC for N$2,7 million in November 2022.

The decision was taken six months after the small business owners were allegedly told to vacate the plot known as erf 254, because the town council allegedly wanted to develop it.

The council reportedly told them it wanted to build an incubation centre.

The small business owners say they were also told to demolish their structures and vacate the plot at the time.

According to the resolution, Multiliver Property Development CC wanted to construct a state-of-the-art development on top of a four-storey building.

“The development will include a socio-cultural centre, a refreshing green space, a modern interactive hub, office space and storage facilities, workspace, and a large restaurant at the top of the building,” the town council said in its resolution.

The small business owners are now accusing the council of misleading them when they told them to vacate the plot.

Isak Elishi (67), one of the business people left stranded, says he established his bar and restaurant on the plot in 1983.

He says the venue involved a community hall that was abandoned by the colonial regime’s works ministry.

“Paulus Wahengo and I renovated the building from 1982 to 1983. We started our business there towards the end of 1983,” he says.

Elishi says he had informed the town council that he intended to buy the plot, but this was not pursued further.

One of the small business owners, Oscar Kamati, in February 2022 requested the town council’s permission to continue running his restaurant on the plot.

His plea came after he was allegedly told by another tenant in February last year that the town council wanted small business owners to vacate the area due to tenants’ breach of contractual obligations.

Kamati’s letter said he started operating his business there in 2017. He says he paid N$1 000 per month since that year.

“I have no other alternative from which I can operate my business. My family and I depend on this business for our livelihoods,” he wrote.

Dhimbulukweni Iipumbu, another small business owner, on Tuesday said she cannot afford to send her children to school.

She says Oshakati chief executive officer Timoteus Namwandi and his officials in June last year told the group of business owners to vacate the plot because the town council wanted to develop it, and they would be able to move in after the development.

Kamati objected to the sale of the plot to Multiliver Property Development CC.

He said the council resolved that it would construct an incubation or commercial centre in April last year.

“That resolution stands as it’s the only public information available on the status of erf 254 until the council dubiously approved the sale to Multiliver Property Development CC,” he wrote.

Multiliver Property Development CC was only registered with the Business Intellectual Property Authority on 14 March last year.

However, in his response to Kamati, Namwandi on 15 February this year said the objection cannot be accepted as the town council had published a notice in newspapers in December last year for objections to be raised.

Oshakati Town Council spokesperson Katarina Kamari said she was not aware that the land has been sold, but she confirmed that the small business owners were told to vacate the plot.

“The property belongs to the council and there was a tenant who was leasing it. He then started subleasing it to other people and they were not paying him. The council then decided to remove them because they were not paying and the property had accumulated more debt. It was also in a dilapidated condition,” she said.

However, Hafeni Asino, one of the shareholders of Multiliver Property Development, confirmed that he and four other shareholders bought the land from the Oshakati Town Council for N$2,7 million.