Disgruntled Opuwo Residents Hold Protest

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By Michael Liswaniso

OPUWO

Hundreds of residents of Opuwo last Thursday took to the main street of the town where they expressed dissatisfaction regarding the administration of the affairs of the Kunene Regional Council they allege is corruptly being run.

The residents marched through Opuwo’s prominent avenue, Mbumbijazo Muharukua to the offices of the Regional Council to voice their grievances.

They waved placards that read: “ACC Come In”, “Down With Nepotism”, “Where Is The Opuwo Constituency Office? and “Are Tenders Only For cronies?” among others.

They assigned Opuwo’s founding town mayor and now Swapo Party district mobilizer, Rex Sheehama to lead them in the march and be their spokesperson. Sheehama was flanked by the Swapo Party regional coordinator, Uahekua Herunga, and other prominent recognized and un-recognized traditional leaders.

Reading out the petition, residents stated that the ongoing irregularities contain a potential time bomb that can derail and bring Government’s development efforts to a standstill.

They allege that the regional governor Dudu Murorua and two of his fellow constituency councillors in Khorixas and Sesfontein, who are on a United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket, treat regional subjects who are not UDF sympathizers unfairly when it comes to employment and other general services.

“On our part, we have been observing a higher degree of respect to you as our political leader but you decide to disassociate yourself from us by looking down on us and treat us as passengers and outcasts,” they stressed in the petition that was read out loud by Sheehama.

The residents claim that Murorua and fellow councillors are responsible for the prolonged appointment of the chief regional officer, noting that on various occasions a successful candidate was not appointed when he was found not to be a UDF member, their alleging that the regional council will in all spheres delay the process and lead to the frustration of the candidate who would opt to seek employment opportunities elsewhere and in the process the post is re-advertised again.

Residents claim tender procedures are not always followed. They pin-pointed the awarding of a tender to a security company to man certain constituency offices without following tender board procedures.

They added that a Toyota Fortuner estimated to have cost close to half a million was purchased for the governor without the ministry and tender board approval and even bought on a one quotation basis.

“It is not just this; even the Toyota Land Cruiser purchased for the Department of Planning and Development is in the hands of the acting chief regional officer and is currently parked at Khorixas for the reason only known to him and his partners in this dirty work.

“In fact, the acting chief regional officer is a director of planning with a car allowance and thus not allowed to drive a GRN vehicle,” Sheehama read the petition.

Residents claim staff members of the regional council are hand-picked and positions are not always advertised.

They thus called upon the Anti-Corruption Commission to intervene swiftly.
They claim the recent appointment of a driver and the personal assistant to the governor raises questions, as their posts were not advertised.

They also allege that the accountant at the office studied human resources and not accounting.

“How can a person who studied human resources management head the finance division and supervise qualified accountants?” asked Sheehama.

Residents say the decision by the UDF regional councillors on the absence of other councillors to declare Khorixas as the regional capital is a clear insult, provocation and contempt of central government, Cabinet and non-UDF residents in Kunene.

“Which government policy gives the UDF power in Kunene for the regional education office to be established in one of the UDF controlled constituencies while there is a regional capital?” they asked.

The residents claim a New Era article of 2005 by the headline “Opuwo Unsuitable Capital” is still fresh in their minds and thus claim they know whose “dirty ideas” it was.

The residents vowed to fight what they termed “tooth and nail, without fear or favour” to protect their rights and intended benefits.

“We urge everyone and even the director of education not to be intimidated and become submissive to UDF illegal instructions to remain calm in the regional capital,” the three-page petition read.

Speaking at the same occasion, senior chief of the Otjikaoko Traditional Authority, Paulus Tjavara, indicated that the entire community of Kaoko is not ill-informed, stupid neither coward and thus, he stressed that there should be tangible solutions to the outcry of the people, warning that the next demonstration won’t be peaceful if no solution to the problems is found.

He further stated that the traditional authorities might even take it up with the Minister and even the President.

“The number of people present here is a clear testimony…,” he noted.

None of the political big muscles were present to receive the petition, and neither was the acting chief regional officer, George Kamseb, as he was on an “official assignment” in the capital.

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