By Hoandi! Gaeb MARIENTAL Hardap has become the first region in the country to set up an emergency consultative forum to address problems faced by local authorities and municipalities in the region collectively. Speaking to New Era, the Acting Chief Regional Officer of the Hardap Region, Charles Tjijenda, said the establishment of the Hardap Regional Consultative Forum was necessitated by mounting problems such as the flooding of Mariental and the increasing cutting-off of basic services, such as electricity and water to some communities in the area. ‘The Hardap Regional Council has realised now that some local authorities will not be able to survive on their own, as consumers in most villages are extremely poor and not able to pay their dues punctually. Hence the decision to establish the forum in order to look at common problems and seek solutions collectively,” he said. Tjijenda said the forum would at the right moment also approach the Office of the president to solicit support for those local authorities that cannot be self-reliant due to the increasing inflationary economic conditions. The first meeting of the forum will take place before the end of the year to work out modalities for the future operations of the forum, he said. “We hope that we will through this forum be able to distribute resources and skills to other areas which are not able to go it alone. For instance, we can exchange accountants and other skilled workers from those villages which are doing well with their books with those who are less fortunate in order to spread good governance throughout the region,” Tjijenda said. Earlier, electricity supply was cut off to the villages of Gideon, Kalkrand and MaltahÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¶he, nearly resulting in a humanitarian crisis at these towns. Approached for comment, Hardap Regional Governor Katrina Hanse said the establishment of the Hardap Regional Consultative Forum is a drive to reduce dependency on the central government. “We want to help ourselves first at regional level, before approaching the central government for assistance.” During a joint meeting of all local authorities in September, Governor Hanse issued a stern warning to local authorities to apply stricter financial discipline and to stop mismanagement of funds or face tough action. She said local authorities must set workable methods and strategies that would enable them to deliver basic services to their communities on a cost-recovery basis. “It is important for us to cope with the ever-increasing inflationary economic conditions in the country.” The governor said the understanding that central government should spearhead development initiatives at local level is wrong and cannot be entertained. “The overall aims and objectives of embarking on the process of decentralization are based on the assumption that when people are allowed to manage their own resources there will be less wastage and people affected will be more responsible,” she said.
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