By Risco Lumamezi
DISCOUNT World Shopping Complex which housed the Government Pension Fund (GIPF) and other offices was burnt down last Sunday, 21 September 2008, throwing GIPF beneficiaries who include pensioners into limbo.
However, a media statement issued by GIPF Chief Executive Officer Mr. Primus Hango has reassured clients that all is not lost despite office furniture including computers whose value is as yet to be determined, being burnt completely.
Also destroyed by the fire blaze were documents that were recently received from its clients which were not yet scanned into the computer system. The documents include claims that were submitted by employers as well as Certificates of Existence from annuitants such as pensioners.
“All documents which were thought lost, can be recreated and our officials will make sure that copies of these documents are obtained and resubmitted,” said Hango in his statement.
He reassured GIPF members and pensioners countrywide and in the Caprivi Region in particular that the information was retrievable.
He said the GIPF has a Disaster Discovery Plan that prepares the Fund to prevent and deal with disasters effectively should they occur. In accordance with this plan, information of members and pensioners is backed up on a daily basis and is stored off-site to make sure that it is safe.
“The GIPF is doing everything possible to find an alternative place in Katima Mulilo as soon as possible to continue with operations. All enquiries in this regard should be directed to the following contact numbers:
Katima Mulilo: Annette Lifalaza 26481-1292976 Brighten Mukowa 26481-1244391 Cecilia Mabegano 0811292976 Windhoek Head Office Call Centre 26461- 2051000,” said Mr. Hango.
Ms. Maria Dax, GIPF’s General Manager: Marketing and Corporate Communications told the Caprivi Vision that GIPF had no clue how the fire started.
Asked whether they were contemplating taking any legal action, Ms. Dax said the GIPF at this moment was only interested in finding an alternative place where it could conduct its services for its members.
“I want our members not to panic as the information is stored in Windhoek” She said.
GIPF opened its regional office in Katima Mulilo in 2002 and is expected to build its own building in Katima very soon.
Efforts to get more comments from the owner of the complex which housed a bakery and other shops proved futile as the owner could not be reached.
However, the Caprivi Vision was reliably informed that the fire was probably started by someone who was repairing an air conditioner.
Katima Mulilo despite not having a fire brigade is prone to fires. Property worth thousands of dollars has been damaged in Katima Mulilo over the years, see report on Page 13.
Many public goods in the town of Katima Mulilo have been attacked by fire which has been not resisted by the Katima Town Council.
Meanwhile, residents of Katima have accused its Council of not taking responsibility of the emergency unit.
Caption for page 13
This privately owned multi-million dollar shopping complex, Discount Warehouse Building, built shortly after independence in Katima Mulilo caught fire on Sunday morning, September 21, 2008 . This complex housed GIPF, Discount Hardware, Warehouse, a supermarket and provided space for vendors.