Clifton Movirongo

Five years on, government has yet to operationalise the Rent Control Board, as the process is still unresolved.

This comes amid revelations that the process of transitioning the rent board from the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) to the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) is still to be concluded.

Even though the process of the rent board has taken half a decade, the government claims to be committed to it.

“We are in the process with the MIT, they are putting all the logistics together and that is not finalised yet,” said urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni told the Windhoek Observer.

Nevertheless, when quizzed by the Windhoek Observer on the way forward and the actual hold-up of the Rent Control Board, MURD minister referred the questions to the MIT minister without a conclusive response.

“Some of the questions I cannot answer, because that will be premature of me. You better ask the Minister of Industrialisation, she will be in a better position to tell you,” Uutoni said.

Minister of Industrialization and Trade Lucia Iipumbu when asked when the handover will occur, said, “As a measure to ensure the operationalisation of the rent board, the ministry organized a Rent Control Board Consultative Workshop that was held in Walvis Bay in June 2019. A consultative meeting was held in July 2020 between the two Ministries of Urban and rural Development and MIT to handover over the administration of the Rents Ordinance No. 13 of 1977 with the actual handover envisaged during the last week of September 2020.”

“The functions of the Rent Control Board are in the process of being moved to the MURD after the legal opinion that stated that the functions belong with the latter. The Attorney General advised that the Bill be housed under MURD as the responsible Ministry for housing.”

According to Iipumbu, Cabinet in 2015 took the resolution Cabinet Decision No. 1st SP/17.02.15/001 that the government should introduce measures to regulate the rental market with a view to preventing alleged exploitation of tenants by landlords.

“We share with you the urgency to operationalise the Rent Control Board especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating economic effects on the lives of our people.”

Questioned on the setback of the process, Deputy Executive Director of the MIT Ndiitah Nghipondoka-Robiati said,” the meetings were held between the Ministry of Industrialisation and MURD just to discuss the modalities, but the actual handover is yet to take place. The actual delay of the handover is because of the unfortunate incident of the Otweya informal settlement (former Twaloloka) that took place on 26 July. MURD had to then of course divert all its attention to address in that issue as well as decongesting other places and those are the same officials whom we had to be able to interact with.”

MURD Executive Director Nghidinwa Daniel said the government remains committed to put in place the measures such as Rent Control Board to monitor and ensure fair rental rates are charged in the country.

“The set-up and related arrangements pertaining to the Board has been handled by MIT, and this is still the case. The two Ministries have already initiated consultations for the transfer of the functions to MURD as directed by Cabinet,” he said.

The Affirmative Repositioning Movement (AR) which had strongly advocated for the operationalisation of the Rent Control Board in 2018 said it still remained committed to the earlier position.

“Yes, 100 percent, it is part and parcel of the AR Housing Charter 31 because we can’t deviate from the pillars of the Affirmative Repositioning,” said AR co-founder Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.

The Rent Control Board is aimed at regulating the rental market, with a view to prevent the exploitation of the tenants by landlords and its establishment is in accordance with section 2 (2) and 3 (1) of the Rents Ordinance No.13 of 1977.