By Ester Paulus TSUMEB About 400 Tsumeb residents yesterday took to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction over a range of issues they want resolved by the Tsumeb Town Council. The angry crowd, who were shouting and singing slogans, demanded that their water be turned on and that written proof be submitted to that effect as they claim to be “tired of empty promises”. In a petition read by community activist Toivo Ashipala, the residents complain that the municipality ignores pensioners, the unemployed and the destitute. The crowd demanded clarity on why a certain employee is still employed by the Tsumeb Municipality when she is alleged to have stolen money from the municipality. The protestors accused the municipality of numerous corrupt practices. Residents claimed that basic charges, interest charges and reconnection fees are sky high and requested all local authority councillors to give their jobs to those that have the community’s interests at heart. They also charged that certain councillors are in arrears, although their water and electricity services have never been cut off, citing that this is corruption and shouting that the Anti-Corruption Commission should be called in. Residents vowed to burn down the building of the municipality if their water, which was cut in July, was not reconnected by today (Thursday). According to a community protester Annamarie Dejager, some residents owe up to N$30 000 and were told to pay N$15 000 to have their water reconnected, which she claims is impossible. She said: “Some employees of the municipality do not respect their customers, they are rude and we cannot exist in such a terrible environment.” Protesters carried placards, one of which stated: ‘Water is a gift from God’. Receiving the petition, Mayor of Tsumeb, Engel Nawatiseb, said the community has the responsibility to contribute to the town’s development through the payment of rates, taxes and other consumer service fees as much as the council is expected to render such services to the community. “Let this not become a debate why we should or should not pay for services.” He further said that the town council is not being indifferent to the needs of the people as there can be no greater needs than those of the people. He promised the residents that the town council would have to find some kind of solution to satisfy residents.
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