WINDHOEK – Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts were appalled when confronted with the unhygienic living conditions in which many government employees currently live at Keetmanshoop.
The committee led by Swapo Party MP, Dr Moses Amweelo is visiting the //Karas and Hardap regions over the next four days to evaluate the condition of government accommodation facilities in the two regions. Similar visits will be undertaken to other regions after which a report would be compiled and submitted to Cabinet. Amweelo could not shed light on the steps government plans to take against civil servant tenants who violate lease agreements, although he did indicate that such tenants could be evicted by obtaining court orders to that effect.
According to the advisor of the Governor of the //Karas Region, Lucia Basson, several houses are standing unoccupied, while many civil servants are desperately in need of proper housing. “Some people are allocated houses, but leave their children there who then rent these houses out to other people. But the condition of those houses is very, very bad. I know of one lady who has come to my office so many times, because the house was allocated to a couple who could afford an NHE house, but she who is a mere cleaner was denied that house. I visited the place where she is staying and even if you sit in that house you can see that it can fall apart anytime,” said Basson. She also called on government to sell such houses or to implement policies that would oblige tenants to renovate the houses in which they live.
Meanwhile, the Control Works Inspector in the Ministry of Works and Transport #Khagu //Hoebeb, denied any irregularities and explained that the ministry pays regular visits to government properties, including houses at least once a year. He could however, not explain the dipilated condition in which many of the buildings are, but claimed that some tenants fail to report houses that require repairs to his office. //Hoebeb also said the lack of funds hampers his department’s operations although the ministry is only responsible for basic repairs, such as doors, taps and windows. He could also not respond adequately to remarks by MPs that the committee has received a complaint from a certain school in !Nami-#Nus where artisans ostensibly arrived without tools. “Every appointed artisan is assigned with tools, but there are not enough funds. The funding is going down every year,” he said, adding that any perception by the committee is a personal challenge to him.
He also explained that if more than one window is broken, claims can only be considered once a situation has been reported to the police and assigned a case number. “We do not know maybe the house was broken into or something like that,” he said. //Hoebeb also confirmed that cracked walls, peeling paint or anything that needs extensive repairs is the responsibility of the line ministries. He also bemoaned the lack of interest among stakeholder representatives, saying his office is yet to receive nominations for members to serve on the ministerial housing committee. //Hoebeb also found himself at a loss for words when asked why a house belonging to the government garage is literally falling apart when its line ministry is the Ministry of Works and Transport.
By Jemima Beukes