THE Katima Mulilo Town Council has been forced to revamp and renovate all roads in town in a move that the residents and taxpayers say is a directive from the ruling SWAPO party which wants to retain all the votes in the next local government elections. The country will be holding regional and local government elections in November at a date to be announced by the Election Commission of Namibia (ECN).
Some local residents are crying foul over what the town management has now embarked on instead of having done it in the past. They blame the town council of not giving names to some streets or constructing tarred streets since they were voted into power.
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity also revealed that the town council is taking people for granted since they are not aware of what happens at the council as taxpayers.
“We are tired of this council and its better we have some elections so that we can vote them out. Katima Mulilo has been lagging behind in some developments and it is still far from being a recognised city. Other towns have been developed to City status except for Katima Mulilo which is the oldest town in the country and this is all because of this “tribalistic and chaotic administration” from our local leaders,” she explained.
However, the Chief Executive Officer of the Katima Mulilo Town Council, Dr Vincent Ntema Sazita dismissed these allegations and defended the Council’s move saying that the developments taking place were already on town council’s plans.
“Since the town was proclaimed as a town on 2 October 1999, infrastructural developments were very slow and still now it is very slow and this resulted in making a perception that we are not developing. Developments need resources, competent staff and members of the community as well. The more the population, the more developments will take place. We can not compare us with towns like Grootfontein, Keetmanshoop, Swakopmund and others. These towns which are developed have done it with time and what they are doing now is just to maintain and develop further as compared to us,” he explained
For the past few years Katima Mulilo Town Council has seen some investors coming to town. All banks including Agric bank and major supermarkets which are in Windhoek are now operating in the resort dust town except Spar supermarket.
On the issue of infrastructural developments, the town’s Chief Executive Officer explained that already some streets have been tarred. Streets such as Mathali in the southern part of the town and Malena from Forestry are now tarred and the current one is the one next to Ngweze primary school.
“We are tarring strategic roads first and longer roads will be done later according to our plans. Meanwhile, we are working on storm water which is being revamped and will be collecting water from Malila stream through to Lyambezi in Masokotwane areas to help drain water to town. We are now on Extension 13 and we have 84 plots, roads have been cleared and very soon some gravel roads will be put in place. These plots are now for sale at a price of N $ 60 per m².
Mahohoma informal resettlement was having problems in terms of water but this has been rectified and some households are now receiving water and the town council has assisted with the relocation of them. Some of these projects are being funded by Lux Development as partners between the government of Namibia to develop Rundu and Katima Mulilo towns. Dr Sazita also explained that the main water supply from Mahohoma to Cowboy has been put in place and work has already started.
“More plots have been provided at Choto, Mahohoma, New Cowboy and Butterfly and they are being finalized at this stage and better houses will be provided through Shake Dwellers,” he added
With regards to the hot issue of vote buying now that the whole country is towards elections, Dr Sazita explained to the Caprivi Vision that in any situation all town councils are government institutions and parastatals and they are mandated to carry their duties as per government plans and they are not a political organization.
“Our mandate is to make sure that quality services are provided by the town council on behalf of the government. We need the community’s support in this case and we are not involved in politics at all. People should understand institutions like central, local and regional have two legs. The other leg is for politics and the other is for administration. Political legs go to the masses and the administrative part implements the wishes of the masses. We are committed to serve at all levels as mandated by the Local Government Act 23 of 1999 as amended. We need their support as a local government,” he explained
On the issue of traffic lights and robots, the Chief Executive Officer said that these projects have been budgeted for and it’s in the pipe line but street names have been given in Boma and everything is in the budget review. He explained that from Boma, they will come to Katima Mulilo town.
“All I can say at the moment is that we are deeply committed towards infrastructural developments in Katima town. Storm water drainage is all in place now and some of these activities will come with time. We are creating employment for the town through the sale of land. As you can see, part of the LA Parliament Hall was sold and work is almost complete now. That shopping mall will house our lawyers as well as other lucrative businesses like Old Mutual and non governmental organizations. Many of these big organizations will be part of that shopping mall business,” he further explained
So far the Katima Mulilo town council has purchased some machinery which many residents are criticizing as a waste of the town council’s money. Two big vehicles meant for infrastructural developments are waiting to be officially handed over to the council’s management.
The town council has been dogged with tribal and trivial political matters at the expense of the rate payers. Alas, there have been some twining agreements with other municipalities from overseas and these have been the Republic of South Africa (RSA), China and local towns such as Windhoek and Otjiwarongo. They have all signed some twinning agreements.
So far there have been no benefits of these twining agreements.
“Everything happening at the town council is tribally biased and the infighting and conflict between leaders is also tribal. Corruption has been the order of the day in their offices,” she further added
‘The former mayor, Michael Mudabeti who had two terms in office had promised residents to impose street names but nothing happened during his tenure. Katima Mulilo is a ghost town with no municipality services such as adequate water supply, electricity and other essential services. It is the oldest town as compared to other towns in Namibia. The town has no single traffic robot since it was given the status some years ago and ratepayers have not been informed of any developments with regards to these,” said another resident.
There are many diseases outbreak and recently there has been an outbreak of diarrhea especially to children below the age of 5. Many of the toilets in town are not working and residents have to use bushes for relieving themselves while others have to buy water for their household chores.
“They should offer us better services in order to get our votes. Gone are the days when these people used do take advantage of us,” said an angry Old Ngweze location resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In a survey recently conducted by this publication, it was revealed that public buildings such as Guinea Fowl, the Golf Club, Africa 2000 and Wooden Bridge and many others have collapsed due to negligence and poor maintenance by the town fathers.
The Caprivi Vision is reliably informed that Wooden Bridge complex was sold to one of the prominent SWAPO party ministers, Dr Albert Kawana some ten years ago and there have been no developments since he purchased the place. The other places were destroyed by fire and these places are being used as latrines by some nearby residents.
Reliable sources explained that all the town councils in Namibia were given an amount to the tune of N$20 million for infrastructural development but it being implemented now in the run up to the local government elections.
Elsewhere in the region, in Sibbinda Constituency, toilet construction and installation of electricity is taking place and residents are questioning on why it is taking place now towards the elections.
Sibbinda is a Rally for Democracy and Progress party (RDP) constituency. The SWAPO party has been threatening villagers with some unspecified actions since it lost in last year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Of late, the Caprivi region has been dogged by some cheap tribal politics and the conflict has been between the Masubia and Mafwe traditional authorities.