New Era journalist based in Keetmanshoop, Jemima Beukes, recently had an interview with !Nami-#nus Constituency Councillor Jan Scholtz on the latest developments in his constituency.
NE: How many people are currently living in your constituency and what are their general needs?
JS: “!Nami-#nus constituency has a total population of approximately 31 000. There has been a great increase in the number as lots of people migrated to our constituency from various parts of the country as well as from neighbouring countries.”
NE: How often do you engage community members in your constituency at grassroots level to ascertain their basic needs and concerns?
JS: “I engage the communities as much as twice a month. We call for consultative meetings as well as feedback meetings when we embark on major developments. In a nutshell, we engage the community formally and informally. Our office was also instrumental in the issuing of 600 identification documents by the Ministry of Home Affairs for citizens in the !Nami-#nus constituency – many of these ID’s were for learners of schools in the constituency. In an effort to mobilize young leaders our office hosted a leadership workshop as well as a a career exhibition in 2011 as a mechanism to steer learners into different careers and expose them to various education options available to them.”
NE: What projects and social infrastructure have you initiated since your election as councillor and how many jobs have been created as a result?
JS: “We have seen alot of infrastructure development in our constituency, such as the construction of sewerage reticulation at a cost of N$8 million to N$9 million, in an effort to completely abolish the bucket system. The second phase is to be completed by end of November this year. Six new boreholes were commissioned at the Aus settlement as well as the replacement of new prepaid electricity boxes done through my office. The alienation of 26 houses for pensioners of Aus settlement will soon become a reality and has already been approved by government. The upgrading of the railway line between Lüderitz and Aus is progressing well. We are also in the process of surveying and the demarcation of 190 erven as part of the Build Together Housing Scheme for which a budget of N$700 000 has been set aside. I foresee plenty of jobs to be created as well as learning opportunities with Aus being among the towns having a Telescopic Array (international collaboration involving research and education) and the arrangement between Unam and North West University of South Africa to build the next generation of earth based high energy gamma rays Telescopic Arrays. The newly constructed mortuary at the Aus clinic has also been done through my office – bodies used to be sent to Lüderitz mortuary. My office has pumped about N$60 000 into the information centre that displays the history of the //Karas Region to tourists and residents. My office is busy organising meetings with the community to revamp the activities of the information centre and the concession and the fish quota which was allocated to the community to ensure that they benefit from this government contribution.
“Our office negotiated with the Lüderitz Town Council that pre-paid electric boxes be installed in Area 7, for which the //Karas Regional Council paid N$120 000. There were 40 beneficiaries and my office can confirm that the electric boxes are fully functioning. Our office is currently in the second phase of getting electric boxes installed in the Lüderitz community.
“So far at least N$70 000 was distributed as loans from the Constituency Development Committee account to assist small businesses and students, and to help pay exam fees for grades 10 and 12 learners in Lüderitz.
“Our office has also assisted community members who have experienced emergencies such as a family in Area 7 whose house was gutted by fire and who lost children in the fire.
“Another family near Sand Hotel experienced a house fire in which all their clothes were lost. Our office bought the family clothes for N$650 at the local Pep Store. Our office provided blankets, mattresses, food parcels to more than 50 people from the Lüderitz community who were affected by a flood, as well as distributed stationery to vulnerable and disadvantaged learners at the primary schools in Lüderitz. We also distributed 50 bags of food and 20 blankets to learners at the Marmar Primary School in Aus. We are currently working with the agricultural project near Agate Beach in Lüderitz. The ground-breaking for the project will be on 8 December 2013. This agriculture project will be run through IMLT and it is a grant of N$200 000 provided by German initiatives. We hope that this project will provide job opportunities for the unemployed youth in the community. This programme will run from January 2014 and will be completed in March 2014. Our office was instrumental in providing a plot for the construction of a new Lüderitz high school. The construction of the new high school will be completed in the next three years. In November of 2011, our office assisted upcoming entrepreneurs with basic equipment in the amount of N$9 000 through the //Karas Regional Council. We assisted some of the small businesses by getting them in contact with Namdeb so that they could remove the scrap metal from the grounds of Elizabeth Bay.
“In collaboration with the Lüderitz Town Council, our office also conducted a needs assessment for social housing in Lüderitz constituency in October 2011. This needs assessment has been completed in both Aus and Lüderitz and our office hopes to move forward with the housing project now that the needs assessment is finished. We are currently working on the upgrading of the playground for children in Lüderitz ( Nautilus) to provide recreational facilities for the children. Through my office we have forwarded a proposal to the Namdeb foundation to fund the upgrading to the tune of N$80 000. This was approved and they already appointed a contractor.
“We have facilitated the renovation of the former German Hostel under the Ministry of Education and Helen Van Rhyn Primary School at a cost of N$1.8 million and N$1.5 million (respectively) for the benefit of Lüderitz. These buildings will be used as from next year to bring temporary relief to the only secondary school in Lüderitz. The //Kharas Regional Council has also donated a plot in front of !Nami-#nus constituency office for the construction of a new high school at a cost of N$20 million.”
NE: There is a general concern among !Nami-#nus community members that gang violence is on the increase, what in your opinion concerning the cause of this phenomenon and what are you doing as constituency councillor to address this evil?
JS: “Concerning the violence and crimes in our constituency. Yes, I am well aware of these issues, as well as burglaries that have been increasing. We have been having consultative meetings which included key stakeholders, such as the police, church leaders and other community leaders to discuss how we can curb these challenges faced by our region. I must say that positive suggestions have come up and we will soon be implementing some of the strategies we have come up with correctively as a team. We are committed to restore !Nami#nus as an originally peaceful region.”
NE: How are you addressing youth unemployment in your constituency and have you established any recreational facility for the youth in your constituency?
JS: “Regarding youth unemployment in the constituency, our major focus on this has been to train the youth in basic skills just to increase their chances of securing jobs. I am so positive that getting these youths equipped will surely increase job creation. Through the Junior Achievement loan training, more than 30 youths have received loans to start their own businesses in Lüderitz. We registered 50 youths who received training from Women’s Action for Development (WAD) in the Lüderitz constituency from September – October 2013. Another advantage is the coming of COSDEC which is offering training to the youth in Lüderitz – so far they have trained a lot of youth in our constituency and that increases the chances of employment among the youth.”
NE: In your opinion, what is the biggest social challenge faced by people in your constituency, and how can this be resolved?
JS: “The biggest challenge right now is the retrenchment of workers; this puts a very heavy burden on the government especially when people are suddenly without jobs. And those that have people working for them, they are infringing the rights of employees. That’s why we arranged for labour law training last week. “
NE: What would you regard as a success story in your constituency?
JS: “The success story: May not be only one but a number of things which comes to mind. Aus settlement having to have water 24/7, doing away with the bucket system, and a mortuary – all is a success story for Aus. For Lüderitz, the construction of a railway line is indeed a good thing for the constituency, which will boost the economy and also simplify the transportation system.”
By Jemima Beukes