Problems at local authority level 'a pain in the neck': Mbumba

07 May 2014 16:40pm
WINDHOEK, 07 MAY (NAMPA) - Swapo-Party Secretary-General (SG) Nangolo Mbumba says the Okahandja Town Council has become the number one culprit for appearing in the media for all the wrong reasons.
In a recent interview with Nampa on how he perceived the problems at local authority level and what the Swapo-Party is doing to address these problems, Mbumba said such issues have become ‘a pain in the neck’, especially with regards to that town council.
“It is a problem that people we have elected to represent us in the local authorities are the ones competing for positions in a negative way, such as by quarrelling and involving the community in their fights,” the party’s SG complained.
He explained that when councillors have problems with each other, they mobilise those who are like-minded, or who speak the same language to support them.
Mbumba said fights based on tribe, language and economic competition have become the order of the day.
“The Omaruru Town Council used to be the number one culprit until the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh took action,” he stated.
Last year, Namoloh suspended the entire Omaruru Town Council for failing to follow directives from his office after several irregularities were unearthed, and put a caretaker administrator in charge.
“Now, Okahandja is the next town council in terms of regular appearance in the media for the wrong reasons,” the Swapo SG reiterated.
In August last year, the town council made headlines when three members of the management committee were removed from their positions following a vote of no-confidence.
Okahandja’s new mayor and former chairperson of the management committee Valerie Aron, as well as Andries Bezuidenhout and Simson Mieze were given their marching orders after a series of accusations were levelled against them, ranging from abuse of power and conflict of interest to self-enrichment.
In December 2013, Namoloh indefinitely suspended all activities of the town council, pending an investigation.
The council had then just elected new office-bearers, elevating Aron to the position of mayor, and appointing Niklaas Steenkamp as deputy mayor.
Namoloh questioned the legality of that process.
Some opposition parties such as the United People's Movement (UPM) also expressed concern over several issues at the Garden Town.
These issues ranged from the fact that no community meetings were conducted, as well as concern over the slow pace at which plots were being made available to needy people at the town.
According to Mbumba, the Grootfontein Town Council also had its own share of problems, but these have not made local headlines recently.
He went on to say that after Okahandja, the other town council which also regularly appears in the media is the Rehoboth Town Council, where the relationship between the district and municipal councillors is a total mess.
The SG noted that to ensure that the residents of these towns do not suffer due to unruly councillors, the Swapo-Party has now put mechanisms in place, which involves the establishment of a disciplinary committee to discipline councillors serving on the Swapo-Party ticket.
“Some councillors may have to face this committee. I think in future, it will also be easy to nationally select and say who has been diligently following the party’s rules,” Mbumba stressed.
He further stated that Namibia has a lot of people in rural areas who need services such as water, housing, education and better infrastructure, but instead of focusing on these issues, councillors are mobilising people for demonstrations.
These demonstrations are not for the good of the people, but rather for political in-fighting amongst councillors.
Approached for comment, Okahandja mayor Valerie Aron refused to explain the regular appearance of her town in the media, and said the town council is rather focusing on a developmental programme it came up with last week.
She said this programme entails the extension of the Mass Housing project, and focusing on making serviced land available to residents.
Aron said the town council is also focusing on beer giant Castle Brewing’s planned million-dollar investments, which company will soon open its doors and help address issues of unemployment at the town.