By Dominic Sikopo
The Congress which saw all Local Authorities of Namibia gathering in Katima Mulilo for the first time was an opportunity for the authorities to take stock on issues affecting local Authorities in Namibia.
In her keynote speech the President of the Association for Local Authorities in Namibia(ALAN) Councillor Agnes Mpingana Kafula thanked the Governor of Zambezi Region , Hon. Lawrence Sampofu, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Hon Maj. Gen(rtd) Charles Namholo and the Mayor of Katima Mulilo Hon.Charles Matengu who were also in attendance.
“Local government is the first contact between the citizen and the government, making municipalities frontline service delivery institutions. One of the Major initiatives in Namibia`s transformation landscape over the past 23 years has been the constitutional recognition of Local Government as a distinct sphere of government aimed at bringing government closer to the people and serving as a visible platform for accelerating improved access to government”, Ms. Kafula noted.
She went on saying, it was critical in the transformation process to build effective systems that would eliminate governance fragmentation, enable coordinate government delivery efforts and encourage integrated development planning in order to achieve maximum impact.“ Of course we have over the past years made good progress in transforming local government to where it is today”.
However, the ALAN President explained that despite some notable successes they have as ALAN acknowledged the formidable challenges that they have met along the way such as lack of adequate resources, limited housing, capacities and skills.
She also acknowledged that, times have changed and that the demands for service delivery have surpassed what councils can be able to deliver.
“I am happy to report to our members on the tangible activities and projects that we have implemented, since our last congress such as drafting and adoption of ALAN Strategic Plan, reviewed the constitution, asistance to some local authorities to come up with their strategic plans, facilitation of both legal and administrative induction courses for elected councillors.As part of our commitment to capacity building, we were able to send abroad representatives from our esteemed members to various global destinations attend skill based conferences, workshops and other consultative forums to enhance their capacities aimed at benefitting their service jurisdictions in the final analysis.”
Ms . Kafula revealed that consultative meetings with the line ministry on the reform paper which they think if those recommendations are approved by central government, it will address most of the current problems and challenges facing the local authorities in Namibia.
She explained that the mentioned achievements were made possible through generous funding from their international partners and the Minisitry of Regional and Local Government.
She went on saying that bi-annual congress was of great significance as it was occurring at a time when the nation was facing yet another election that will impact the wishes and aspirations of the electorate.
“Historically, both the electorate and government have played an important role in the life of ALAN and our members in particular, hence their respective roles remain relevant and crucial as we move in to the second phase in which more focus is required to achieve meaningful socio-economic freedom”, she divulged.
“I wish to acknowledge the positive role played by our government in uplifting the living standards of the poor through deliberate interventions such as the upcoming national Mass Housing Project”, said ALAN President .
“Today we reflect on the road travelled since the 55th congress in both organizational work and that of our relationship with stakeholders both locally and internationally”, she added.
She explained that the past congress re-affirmed ALAN as a strategic partner of uniting local authorities in the country and providing leadership to it`s members and society as a whole.
“As management we are aware of the many problems facing local authorities over the past twelve months such as insufficient fund for planned activities, part time of political leadership, lack of human resource capacity and shortage of serviced urban development land”
ALAN President explained that the most disturbing of these problems is the bad relationship some local authority’s political leadership and their CEOs, which triggers counter production in delivering municipal services,
“I therefore appeal to our Ministry of Local Government and all stakeholders in local government to assist in providing guidance on how we can solve this problem once and for all because always the outcome is suffering of the innocent community members”, she stressed.
She requested those engaged in these counterproductive feuds to bury their differences and start thinking how they can make Namibia a better country and local authorities as better places for all residents.
In conclusion, the ALAN President thanked the sponsors Standard Bank, Nampower and Namwater and all the invited presenters of various topics whose support to the bi-annual congress would not have been possible.
“We further wish to recognise the hard work invested by the Katima Mulilo secretariat under the Leadership of the CEO Mr. Charles Nawa and the ALAN Secretariat led by the Acting CEO, Ms.Maureen Kambala who worked tirelessly to organise this congress”.
The theme was “Local Authorities a Key Partner in Decentralisation & Social Development”