NEW Era journalist Alvine Kapitako this week spoke to Martin David, the councillor of the Moses //Garoëb constituency on the development of the constituency. David has been a constituency councillor since 2010.
New Era (NE): How many people live in your constituency and what are the main needs of the people who live in your constituency?
Martin David (MD): The latest census indicates that there are 45 900 people in the constituency. We are in need of land for housing. When we talk about housing we are referring to a house with electricity, sanitation and potable water. You know, in life if you have a house than you are someone, if you do not have a house I do not know what to call you.
NE: There is a general perception that constituency councillors only visit their constituencies during election times. How would you describe the relationship between your office and the people who elected you as their councillor?
MD: I do not agree with that statement, maybe that is the case in other constituencies. We have the Constituency Development Committee (CDC) that consists of 17 members and I am the chairperson. So, within two years I have attended 67 community meetings. We have three to four community meetings a month and when we communicate with the community it is not only when we are telling them that we are bringing them potable water or other developments. We have many meetings through which we engage communities on their needs. We also have leadership meetings where we discuss the needs of the people and the leaders take the message to the people in their particular areas and locations. On a daily basis people complain of their toilets being out of order and await the response of the councillor; houses are destroyed by fire and the councillor responds. There are many ways that we communicate with the people.
NE: What projects and social infrastructure have you initiated since you were elected as councillor?
MD: Two years only… we have the Havana project school and about 500 hundred Grade 1 learners are accommodated in this project school. We will also set up temporary classes for Grade 2 learners next year, while building a permanent structure for them. We are already discussing with the City of Windhoek and the Ministry of Education over when construction of the school will start, so hopefully next year that school will be there. We have a temporary mobile police station. The people in this area have access to the police, here I am referring to people who are reporting cases, certifying of documents and all the public needs from the Ministry of Safety and Security. We have the women and men community policing network that was established last year. We have 1550 members of the network. They patrol in the constituency day and night just to identify those who commit crime, so peace and tranquillity can prevail in this area because of the commendable efforts of the network. Since 2001 the City of Windhoek provided residents in this area with common well toilets, but because of the many people in the constituency these toilets are time and again out of order. But still, there are areas where we have added toilets. Last year we set up sixteen units for communities in various locations. We also have income generating projects for business people who are selling kapana, hairdressers, welders and wood workers. The Khomas Regional Council has a programme to identify a number of them to be supported, including by the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare. Last year and the year before that we supported 58 projects. This year the process is still underway. Monte Cristo Road and Walvis Bay Street will be tarred maybe early next year. We have 1400 demarcated erven and electricity will be supplied to those particular erven and if things go well households will be able to have their own toilets. Also, people would be able to construct their own houses.
NE: You mentioned the tarring of roads. How many jobs would this create for people in the constituency and how else will this benefit the people?
MD: This is not the time to have a figure of how many people would be employed, but our motto is to make sure that for all the projects taking place in the constituency, the people in this constituency must have the priority when it comes to general employment be it long-term or short-term. So, the tar roads are a sustainable development that will benefit many people. People of my age and even the future generation and if you have a tar road than you have communication with everybody, whether they are Namibians or not. It will bring investors to the constituency. So, the tar roads have got a big role to play in people’s lives. You bring taxi ranks closer, you bring bus stops closer, you improve the health of the people, because there is no longer any dust.
NE: Are there funds readily available for projects that you are initiating for the people?
MD: You know what, the funds… the CDC and I sit and identify the needs of the people and we refer them to the relevant authorities and offices. For example we can appeal to the City of Windhoek saying we need certain streets to be tarred and according to that request the City of Windhoek would respond and so they know the budget and they control the budget.
NE: And what are the common problems faced by people in your constituency?
MD: We have many problems. We have people who do not have birth certificates, identification documents and we have people who do not have potable water, while sanitation is also a problem. Unemployment is also a challenge, housing, facilities are far from the people. If a person wants to go to an ATM it is far from the people and so even if you want to go to Woermann Brock or Shoprite there is a distance that must be walked and not even walking, but taking a taxi. We have challenges of alcohol abuse, noise pollution, because children cannot even read or study because of the noise pollution.
NE: And so how are you intervening to solve these problems?
MD: Okay, the 58 projects supported by the regional council is to improve people’s businesses so that they can employ others. Alcohol abuse has a role to play in the increase of HIV infections, people get infected. We have organisations that educate our communities on responsible behaviour, be it in relationships, when to sell alcohol and the negative impacts of alcohol consumption. During meetings I talk to the people and educate them on the consequences of alcohol consumption and noise pollution. Even this morning I made a speech on radio asking users to maintain hygienic standards and sanitation for people to remain healthy. We request services on behalf of the people from the government sector and they usually respond. So, that is what I am doing.
NE: Crime is a nationwide problem. What types of crime are common in your constituency? And how is your community involved in tackling this scourge?
MD: We have cases of domestic violence sometimes caused by alcohol abuse. We have a few reported cases of housebreaking and people fighting. The women and men network is made up of people in the community. They are part of the problem solving. They identify and communicate to us telling us who commits crimes by patrolling and visiting bars and families. So, wherever crime occurs they report that to either the Windhoek City police or the Namibian police and that way they solve the problems with their network.
NE: How about shack fires. Is your constituency also affected and how?
MD: Of course, that is a serious problem affecting all informal settlements. Even yesterday there was a shack that was gutted by fire only to find out that a human life was lost in that fire. Now I am here waiting for the people to bring documents to the office so that we can see how they can help these people or request for assistance from other organisations and offices. Even myself, if there is something in this office I can assist my people.
NE: Briefly share some of the success stories in your constituency
MD: We have demarcated erven, about 1400 and we now have speed humps in some of our streets so that speed is reduced within our streets. We have the school project that we are getting off the ground, the police mobile station is there and it is another achievement. We have organisations that come to the constituency to educate our people on matters such as relationships. We have organisations coming here to test people for HIV so that they can know their status. When a shack is gutted by fire many organisations and good Samaritans come to their aid through this office.
People know where our office is situated and they know the name of their councillor. Also, we have a mobile office where the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in collaboration with an organisation called Family Hope Services issuedocuments such as full birth certificates, death certificates and identification documents. So far more than 250 children obtained birth certificates last year and this year, 68 adults obtained birth certificates during the same period 2000 children without birth certificates were registered. People flock to this office to obtain national documents.
By Alvine Kapitako