“Most of the shebeens and shacks in Tobias Hainyeko belong to people who live in town, they belong to people who live in Klein Windhoek, Kleinne Kuppe and those other areas.”
New Era journalist Alvine Kapitako spoke to Zulu Shitongeni the Tobias Hainyeko Constituency Councillor, who has been in that position since 2008. The discussion was on matters pertaining to his constituency, one of the biggest in the Khomas Region.
NE: How many people live in your constituency and what are the main needs of the people who live in Tobias Hainyeko Constituency?
ZS: “There are 45 800 people in Tobias Hainyeko constituency. We have a need for a secondary school and a hospital. The other need is accommodation because people are living in shacks in Tobias Hainyeko and the main problem is the lack of proper housing.”
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 in your constituency?
ZS: “We are very close. If you come to this office every day you’ll find people – some of them come to offer advice to me as their councillor on the developmental needs of the people. I have a close friendship with my people when it comes to development or any issue pertaining to my people. They are also quick in responding to criticise me if I am on the wrong side in my daily work and I always accept their criticism.”
NE: What challenges do you face in Tobias Hainyeko Constituency?
ZS: “We have a challenge of land demarcation and I think nobody can dispute that, whether I am a councillor or not, that is the main challenge. That is because people are flocking in and settling, demarcating off land. They put up structures as they want and it ends up being an uncontrollable situation. But the Windhoek City Council is supposed to control that.”
NE: What projects have you initiated since you were elected as councillor?
ZS: “We initiated a community bakery, but we do not have land for it, it is just on paper. We are also looking for land for a service station for the community. We have an income generating project for people who sell kapana, those who own car washes as well as for those who do welding, amongst others, to lend money up to N$50 000. Depending on their business and the success of it they have to pay back. If they are not successful we look at helping others. This year, we are helping 27 people with this income generating project. When I became councillor, Tobias Hainyeko had dusty roads and as I am speaking now, 85 percent of Tobias Hainyeko is tarred, especially the main street. You will not see any dust anymore. Only eight to eleven kilometres in Omuvapu Street are to be tarred this year or next year and the tender was already awarded. “
NE: During the project implementation how many jobs would be created? And how much would be spent on these projects?
ZS: “We anticipate creating 30 permanent jobs with the community bakery and 60 casual jobs to start off the project. We will spend about N$5 million – you know for these big projects you call people to assist with the implementation. [It entails] the cost of the land, the cost of the serviced land and the material used.”
NE: How will the projects that you mentioned benefit and improve the lives of people in your constituency?
ZS: “If the projects that are in the pipeline materialise the people will really benefit from them. It will create employment and since the bakery is in the community bread will be brought closer to the people and they do not have to go far to buy bread. The service station would also give employment to my people and reduce the poverty that is hammering them. When children complete Grade 7 they have to travel long distances to go to high schools in nearby constituencies which is costly for the parents.”
NE: What other projects are currently in the pipeline in your constituency and are the funds available for these planned projects?
ZS: “The funds are already there – we should only initiate projects that attract central government’s attention to support us. We must communicate to central government the needs of our people and not to wait for central government to come to us and say ‘do this and do that’.”
NE: What are the common problems being faced by people in your constituency and how have you as councillor intervened to resolve these?
ZS: “The problem of the people here is unemployment, while HIV is the second biggest problem in my constituency, then drug and alcohol abuse and noise pollution. How do I solve it? We are working together with the police and we identify those problems and the police take action against those abusing alcohol and drugs. As I am speaking we have really done a lot for our community when it comes to drug abuse. Poverty is another problem. We look at our people and make sure that they can get bread on their table. I am always looking for good Samaritans to assist our people because we are in an area where we cannot get drought relief because we are in an urban area. Now to make sure that my people are also getting food I am also going to many companies for help to assist our people. Namica (situated in Okuryangava) is one of the shops assisting people in my constituency when it comes to food. The Fish Consumption Trust also assists here and there to give fish free of charge to the community.”
Crime is a nationwide problem. What kind of criminal activities are common in your constituency and how is your community involved in tackling this scourge?
ZS: “Here in Tobias Hainyeko, this year, specifically this year we do not have much crime. We set up this team called ‘Women and Men Network’. Since they came in crime in Tobias Hainyeko has reduced drastically. If you hear of any crime in our area you will only hear of a woman killed by a man but not specifically in Tobias Hainyeko, we do not have that specifically in this constituency. I do not know, maybe our men are better than others but that is what I observed that our people in Tobias Hainyeko are not so cruel to kill their wives or girlfriends, not in Tobias Hainyeko, we just hear it in other areas. But this Women and Men Network are really doing their job, they’ve solved the problems we had in our constituency in former years.”
NE: What criminal activities were previously common in your constituency?
ZS: “The crime that was previously common was people drinking and fighting in bars. Thieves were stopping people on their way to grab their cellphones and so forth but this is no more. Noise pollution is caused by jukeboxes. Noise pollution is the main problem in Tobias Hainyeko, the business people or shebeen owners do not want to listen to us. Most of the shebeens and shacks in Tobias Hainyeko belong to people who live in town, they belong to people who live in Klein Windhoek, Kleinne Kuppe and those other areas. They are the ones who bring noise pollution here. You only see them during weekends when they come here from their areas to braai and do other businesses and when problems emerge they go and leave our people who those problems.”
NE: Are shack fires a problem in your constituency and if so how are the people affected by the problem of shack fires?
ZS: “Yes, that is a major problem. That is because we do not have electricity in our houses. City council said they cannot give us electricity because the land is not serviced. But I am very much against that, I was very upset when the city council told me that because when you go to rural areas you find shacks that have electricity, so why can they not give us electricity? People are willing to pay for electricity. People are really affected by shacks that burn, they are already poor, they work but earn a salary of N$1 000 and then they find that their house has burnt down. That is a big challenge because they look at the councillor to assist them either with blankets or anything that I have in the office but you sometimes find that there is nothing. The office of the governor is in a position to better assist these people but not always.”
NE: Can you share some of the successes in your constituency?
ZS: “The tarring of our road is one success. Last year around 60 houses were serviced. We have a primary school (Fidel Castro) in our constituency that was started in 2009 near One Nation (informal settlement). The Okuryangava clinic was upgraded to a health centre and the Fish Consumption Trust is now closer to my people. This means they do not have a problem of transport to get fish.”
By Alvine Kapitako