Katima Council back on track

By Risco Lumamezi

THE Katima Mulilo Town council, which faced financial crisis and irregularities, is now back on rolls after the Ministry’s intervention in the past two month.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing, Erastus Negonga briefed the media on Friday in withdrawing the technical team back to Windhoek, the team was assigned to intervene in the management and administration of Katima Mulilo Town Council since 9 August 2004.

Before the ministry’s intervention Katima had its water supply rationed to residents twice a day due to outstanding debts to Namwater of over N$14 million by the council, this also raged the council not to pay its debtors and employees due to lack of sustainable income.

Negonga said,” The infighting between the Councillors and the top management has led to the council trading recklessly and the community lost confidence and trust in the management and administration of the council” he said.

According to him, successes have been achieved after the intervention period of 60 days by the ministry, which turned the council into an accountable local government trading in sound business principles.

“There is significance improvement in good local governance after the entire elected council and the top management have received comprehensive induction training in Windhoek by our leaders in the central government and management of the ministry,” Negonga said.

Other achievement, which has been accorded by the technical team, is the workforce of the town council, which has been reduced to 40 percent leading to the deduction of the wage bill by fifteen percent. The permanent secretary promised that top management positions are due for appointment within the next two weeks. Which he referred that “Qualified new blood would be recruited from outside the council”

Residents who still owe the council are called to pay their debts.

Negonga told journalists that all creditors have now paid since the ministry’s intervention, which reckoned the monthly collection of revenue to be doubled from an N$500,000, 00 to over 1 million since August 2004. “In the past the council failed to enhance participatory democracy in the implementation of decentralisation” Said Negonga.

The question still remains as to what happened to Katima Mulilo Council to go bankrupt this was caused by water supply, which lost through underground leakages and illegal connections by residents. One of the major achievements achieved by the technical team is the monthly bills paid to Namwater, which has been reduced from half a million in July to three hundred thousand in September. A serious factor, which led to bankruptcy, is the town land of Katima Mulilo, which failed to generate a single cent to the council.

More than sixty percent of land sold to the tenants is not registered and no payment was made to the council, with that the council could not charge rates and taxes to the town properties due to inadequate registration and valuation rolls.

“Illegal occupation of the town land has to be regulated as a matter of urgency for the town to survive a matter which the ministry is busy doing since our intervation”pointed Negonga. Katima Mulilo is a wealthier town in Namibia, which need to succeed as a local authority, through the participation of all stakeholders like public and private sectors, business communities and the entire civil society.

The ministry will continue to assist the council with land management and registration of properties to boost the revenue base of the council.

Other plans has been accorded by the ministry to implement the waste management system which will contribute financially to the labour based clearing campaign of the town as agreed between the Caprivi Regional Council and Katima Town Council.

The ministry is to send a team soon to Katima to build the capacity building to induct the newly appointed management and the whole staff of the council. When asked to shed some lights on how far is the investigation gone levelling the irregularities and disbursement of funds and the suspension of three top managers of the council, Negonga responded, “the ministry sent the technical team to solve the problem I understand that they all reconciled”.

Ms.Agnes Limbo the town’s CEO added “its history now” she said.

Geoffrey Mugwala the former Human Resources manager has secured a post at the envisaged Katima Mulilo Waterfront Project and Edwin Kambinda who worked as the town Treasurer also left the position.

Negonga further told reporters that the ministry is still investigating to the issue of corruption, which happened at Katima Council in relation to the people who got posts through forgery of certificates and the workers who connected the illegal connections of water to the residents , that the law will follow the culprits. Negonga responded to the questions of the journalists after his press statement.





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