Pensioners demonstrate for municipal debts to be scrapped

05 Nov 2015 20:30pm
WINDHOEK, 05 NOV (NAMPA) - Over 50 senior citizens living in the Katutura residential area on Thursday staged a peaceful demonstration, demanding for their old municipal housing bonds and water bills to be written off.
The group handed over a petition to Windhoek Mayor, Muesee Kazapua and City of Windhoek (CoW) acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fillemon Hambuda in front of the Office of the Mayor.
“This is a peaceful demonstration of elders from Katutura. No political party is involved and no Regional Council or Local Authority councillor is behind this,” group community Leader, Edward Xoagub said before reading the petition.
He said the main purpose of the demonstration is to request the Office of the Mayor and CoW management to consider writing off the debts of old municipal houses, especially those owned by pensioners; scrapping water bills for all pensioners or to reduce it to affordable tariffs; and provision of plots to pensioners at an affordable rate.
“We are requesting the CoW to provide us with plots at affordable prices, if not for free, because the N.dollars 1 000 (old-age pension) we are receiving from the government cannot cover all water and electricity bills including our daily needs,” Xoagub said.
The group also demanded for the eviction process due to unpaid municipal bills to be stopped; to stop police interference and intimidation during civil matters, especially during eviction processes; the closure of all illegal shebeens and the control of noise pollution.
He explained that school children cannot study well and elders do not sleep well because of noise pollution every day.
Xoagub added that the group is also concerned about the increase of criminal activities and gender-based violence (GBV) in their areas that are mainly caused by the excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
Kazapua accepted the petition and promised to study their concerns and address them accordingly.
“We are aware of your concerns and we have already written off water and electricity debts of senior citizens between 2013 and 2014,” he said.
Kazapua, however, said the CoW is currently engaging with the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare to address these issues together and get a permanent solution to exclude the elders and pensioners from municipal rates and taxes.
He said he took note that most young people living with elders are unemployed and cannot afford to assist the elders to pay their municipal debts.
Currently, Windhoek residents owe the municipality about N.dollars 500 million for basic amenities such as electricity, water, refuse removal, sanitation and other rates and taxes.
Over 2 000 pensioners in Windhoek owe the municipality about N.dollars 7.1 million.