By Hoandi !Gaeb MARIENTAL Controversy surrounds the establishment of the Southern Electricity Distribution Company (SORED, as rumours are rife that they have exceeded the grace period granted to the board through a Cabinet directive. Speculation in the Hardap Region says that SORED is dead as no board meetings have taken place for a considerable period of time due to the lack of a quorum until earlier this month when the board managed to organize a meeting. New Era has it on good authority that, apart from the fact that the board seems to be unable to meet regularly, there is growing resistance from the general public not to engage in what they term the “privatization of electricity supply” to the poor communities in the South. The situation is apparently being aggravated by the controversy surrounding one of the major electricity supply role-players in southern Namibia, SELCO. The chairman of the technical committee of SORED, Salmaan Jacobs, confirmed that there may be some misunderstanding by the public over the difference between SELCO and the envisaged Southern Electricity Distribution Company, SORED. “However, we have started an information campaign which is aimed at informing the public about the role of SORED. We want to sensitize the public that SORED is a government project aimed at regulating the electricity supply process in southern Namibia. It does not necessarily mean that the tariffs will increase. It may in fact improve the situation,” Jacobs contended. “There is no reason for fear.” He said all local authorities in the Hardap, Karas and parts of the Omaheke Regions, which fall under the jurisdiction of SORED, have been tasked with starting brochures and distributing them as part of the ongoing information campaign. “By the time we are up and running, everybody must be informed about the role of the new electricity supply company.” Referring to rumours that the board is struggling to get the company off the ground, Jacobs said it is well inside the grace period granted through a directive of the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The grace period only ends in June next year. He said another meeting would take place in two weeks’ time which will finally decide on the recruitment of top management. “We have already enlisted the services of a top human resources consultancy company, and we authorized the advertizing for the top four managerial positions at that meeting,” Jacobs said. The Southern Electricity Distribution Company is the last to be set up through a government directive providing for the establishment of REDS for electricity distribution in the country. Other REDS providing electricity distribution to other regions, such as the north, North-west and central areas, have already been established and are up and running. SORED board of directors consists of Stephanus Goliath, former Governor of the Karas region (Chairman); Katrina Hansen, Governor of the Hardap Region (Deputy Chairperson); Salmaan Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of the Karas Region; Johannes !Gawaxab, Old Mutual’s Managing Director for Africa Operations; Franco Feris of the Rehoboth Town Council; and Attie Schultz and Lucia Shipena, both of NamPower.