Local Authority Officials Challenged


By Engel Nawatiseb WINDHOEK The Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Kazenambo Kazenambo has launched a scathing attack on leaders that focus their attention on trivial issues instead of executing their political mandate to address matters that benefit their communities. Addressing a strategic planning workshop of Alan and Nalao in Windhoek yesterday, Kazenambo urged leaders to liberate themselves from complexes of having the ability to intrude on the rights of others. He cautioned those who are conspiring against democratically elected leaders to stop undermining their efforts but to rally behind them in order to ensure continuity of councils’ development agendas. “When they leave office, they concentrate more on how to undo another person in the office but forgetting that all of us have a role to play as politicians and officials. Either you are hired or you are elected. Don’t spoil waters because you are not elected during this round. People seem to have a problem when some are elected but when it is their chance everything should be acceptable. When others have won it becomes condemnable,” said Kazenambo. He urged councillors and officials to cooperate when they are no longer in top positions to boost issues of mutual interest and cease the tendencies of backbiting and character assassination because it would do more harm to the country and the electorate, instead of healing wounds. Kazenambo told participants, including some from Canada and Zimbabwe, that the Namibian government is a champion of public participation in decision making at all levels of government and has therefore implemented the policy of decentralization. He however quickly pointed out that his remarks should not be interpreted to suggest that the visitors were witnessing a Namibian quarrel, but indeed strategic thoughts that could contribute towards a beefed up strategic plan currently under review. Councillor of the City of Windhoek Gerson Kamatuka, coupling as the Acting Chief Administrative Officer of Alan, assured the minister that local authority councillors have matured and take their responsibilities seriously and would not compromise development by promoting infighting. “This is exactly what Alan is discouraging. Some of us (city councillors) haven’t been promoted during the last election of office bearers but we will continue to collaborate.” Said the newly elected Vice President of Nalao, Okahandja Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Niita Alughodi: “Squabbles and whatever you call it will certainly come to an end. We need to assist each other through common understanding of important issues that should improve the living conditions of all our people.” Kazenambo further urged the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to continue rendering the assistance given to local authority associations in the country to build capacity at local level that could strengthen local governance. A facilitator of the workshop, Randy Goulden from Saskatchewan in Canada re-confirmed their continued support to the municipal development programmes that Alan has initiated in collaboration with Nalao. She stressed that the FCM will remain a development partner, hence its affiliation to initiatives aimed at striking a balance between Alan and Nalao by funding the strategic planning workshop during last year (2005), as well as the review workshop currently underway. Alan President Rosina //Hoabes said her association is faced by challenges hampering development at most of its member municipalities, including poverty reduction, employment creation and lack of investment at both villages, towns and municipalities. She stressed that the Alan/Nalao strategic plans would pave the way to overcome some of the challenges once adopted after the review workshop. //Hoabes said the workshop is also aimed at increasing recognition of Alan by both government and other stakeholders and also to improve capacity of the secretariat to disseminate information to local authorities, stakeholders and external partners. “We want to improve working relationships between councillors, officials and citizens, an increased participation of citizens in municipal planning and decision-making processes notwithstanding increased funding of our two associations’ activities.” The workshop, which ends tomorrow, will also review the environment in which Alan and Nalao operate, including their vision and mission statements and core values.