Regional Development on Front Burner

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK In its quest to formulate comprehensive strategies for rural development, the Ministry of Regional, Local Government, Housing and Rural Development intends to host regional conferences countrywide. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Erastus Negonga told New Era yesterday that at the recent ministerial retreat a decision was taken to host conferences in all the thirteen regions of the country in the course of this financial year. This would be done with the main aim of formulating strategies that would be based on traditional norms and values, economic potentialities and technical endowments in the different regions of the country. Once the regional conferences are undertaken, the ministry will facilitate the hosting of a national conference on rural development. This, according to Negonga would take place in the next financial year. He says this exercise is critical given the cross-cutting nature of rural development functions in the country. “After the national conference, we will oversee the formulation of strategies on the country’s white paper on rural development which will be a framework for developing rural development in Namibia,” he said. Given the critical and new dimension and roles the ministry has been entrusted with to coordinate rural development functions, last week the ministry held a retreat at Swakopmund to review its organisational structure and accommodate rural development functions, which will operate at directorate level. Negonga, who described the five-day meeting as a roaring success, added that the meeting was significant to the restructuring of the ministry as currently the establishment is not pro-active and lacks the necessary structures to pay attention to regional, local and traditional authorities. The retreat also saw the introduction of the proposed consolidated regional council structures discussed in October 2005 during the Cabinet Retreat. “The introduction was done to regional councils and the public commission in a way to help them understand how structures look like to accommodate the delegated functions of line ministries and decentralisation,” he said. The ministerial retreat was clustered in phases and the first phase was exclusive to the ministry staff members. They reviewed and finalised the strategic plan after the end of the five-year strategic plan in March 2006. “We have now come up with another five-year term strategic plan,” he said. During this gathering, issues pertaining to improving customer care service to diverse clients and how to equally improve the legislative administration when dealing with sub-national institutions with legal challenges formed part of the discussions. Regional governors during the last two days of the workshop joined the ministry staff members together with their chief regional officers and directors of administration and personnel. The ministerial retreat was the first of its kind and brought together ministerial staff, regional councils, governors, and the Public Service Commission (PSC). “The retreat was a success and I am quite confident that contributions and resolutions that came out of the discussions will guide the ministry to promote service delivery to clients and the community at large,” he concluded.