By Frederick Philander KEETMANSHOOP The inauguration of the Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency Office is indeed a milestone achievement for decentralization and rural development. The Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni, officially opened the office on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba. The occasion was attended by many of the locals, cultural and music groups such as Ndilimani, the governor Dawid Boois, the minister of Tourism and Environment Willem Konjore, traditional chiefs, regional councillors and mayors of towns in the Karas Region. “The building of this office is clearly an effort geared towards decentralizing decision-making to the lowest practicable level including the powers to elect the region’s own representatives at all levels of governance. What we are witnessing today is a true manifestation of bringing government closer to the people, regarded by the government as its greatest asset. Government exists for them as well as because of them,” said Pandeni. According to him, the government has availed funds towards the construction of constituency offices in the whole of the Karas Region, of which the Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency Office had been the fifth of six completed. “It is my fervent hope that this office will serve as a catalyst of development because meetings of development committees will be done from it. Today we are living in an era of competition for scarce resources. It is therefore incumbent upon our people to take extra steps that will bring about self-reliance and economic change in our communities,” Pandeni said. He further appealed to the residents of the town to make good use of the resources found in their area. “I want you, the people, to make sure that this office does not stand idle but make sure it is frequented by all the people in the constituency to find out about government programmes. You should organize and mobilize yourselves to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic empowerment of the community, and the country as a whole,” the minister urged. He further warned that cooperation is a prerequisite for development and empowerment. “It should be clear that there must be consultation and cooperation between the leadership in the constituency and the community. It is only through unity of purpose that the aspirations of participating democracy can be cemented and put into action. In fact, through enabling legislation at both local and regional levels, the government has clearly and resolutely laid a strong foundation upon which the genuine aspirations of ‘people-based government’ through decentralization can flourish,” he reminded the audience.