Ministry of Housing "a must in the next Cabinet"

09 Oct 2013 10:30am
By: Sawi Hausiku-Lutibezi
WINDHOEK, 09OCT (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (MRLGHD) must be split in two, allowing the housing sector to stand on its own as a ministry, some locals have suggested.
In itself, the ministry is there to coordinate Government activities in rural development and establish an effective, decentralised regional and local government system; while it is also involved in housing and physical planning.
It also provides guidance to administration structures such as Regional Councils, Local Authorities and Traditional Authorities in the country, responsibilities which tend to be too much for one ministry to handle.
Nampa discussed this matter with a local politician and an academic, and these discussions revealed the need for more interventions which should help address the housing problem.
They are of the opinion that the split will simplify the management of the ministry’s business, create clear lines of accountability and ensure that the ministry delivers on its key priorities.
Newly-elected President of the opposition DTA of Namibia (DTA) political party, McHenry Venaani told Nampa in a recent interview on this topic that it is totally wrong for the housing sector to be run as a department while it is one of the key basic needs in a person's life.
“I believe that we need a settlement ministry, a ministry that will be focused on dealing with the backlog of housing delivery,” he said.
The DTA leader further argued that small ministries can be brought together, paving way for the creation of key areas in order to have a political leadership on housing.
The rural development sector, he reckoned, could fall under housing, whilst regional and local government stand on its own as well.
“So, I think the idea of a split in the MRLGHRD is welcome, but it does not mean we should proliferate Government,” Venaani stated.
In many countries, he said, ministries such as environment and fisheries are joined as one, adding that it is important to re-align and create the needed areas that need working on.
“Therefore, a ministry of housing is a must in next year’s Cabinet,” Venaani reiterated.
The Deputy Dean in the University of Namibia's (UNAM) Faculty of Law, Professor Yvonne Dausab on her part said removing rural development from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, which it belonged to in the past, was a mistake.
According to her, somebody must have advised Government that there is an intimate relationship between regional and local government, housing and rural development.
“Something that we do not realise is that placing different aspects of life issues in a ministry does not make it efficient. It is about the expertise that people have in a ministry that will make sure that service delivery happens,” she said.
Dausab further argued that when she briefly looked at the evolution of the MRLGHRD, she is convinced that there is a need to re-look the functional objectives of the ministry.
She would rather prefer that the ministry goes back to its initial name, which was the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing.
The ministry held that name from its inception in 1990 up to 2004. In 2005, with the late John Pandeni at its helm as minister, it was then changed to the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.
“Taking away the rural development aspect may contribute to a little bit more focus on the housing aspect, because I suspect that maybe housing got lost in the regional and local government aspects of it all,” she pointed out.
Professor Dausab also indicated that she would not propose the establishment of a new ministry as the country already has a reasonably bloated civil service.
“What I would propose is that rural development goes back to the ministry that deals with agriculture because they are closely connected,” she noted.
Dausab further proposed that given that housing is such a critical sector, an advisory committee must be established in terms of the National Housing Development Act 28 of 2000 - something which should have been done a long time ago.
Also approached for comment on this issue, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (RLGHD), retired Major-General Charles Namoloh said he is happy with the current set-up of the ministry.
The decision to create ministries, he indicated, is the responsibility of the president of the country, adding that Namibia has a small population of only 2,2 million people, and he thus does not see the logic of creating a housing ministry.
“Countries that have a housing ministry are those with a much bigger population than ours, which is understandable. We have the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), which is a State-owned company of government under the ministry. Why should we now go and create another housing ministry?” he questioned.