WINDHOEK – The Khomasdal North constituency consists of Khomasdal, Katutura and Otjomuise. Some of the problems facing the constituency include housebreaking, violent crimes, dangerous riverbeds where crime also lurks, land grabbing, unemployment, lack of proper housing, shack fires and a lack of taxi ranks. New Era’s Tunomukwathi Asino spoke to the councillor of the constituency Margaret Mensah-Williams on the challenges ahead.
New Era (NE): How many people live in the constituency and what are the main needs of the people?
Margaret Mensah-Williams (MMW): “The total population is about 43 400 people which is broken down to 23 200 women and 20 200 men.”
NE: And what are the main needs of the people in the constituency?
MMW: “The residents of Khomasdal North constituency have many needs to be taken care of. These include the need for plots, electricity in the informal settlements, mostly in Agste Laan, proper ablution facilities, separate toilets and taps instead of communal taps and toilets, recreational facilities such as soccer fields, swimming pools, a resource centre, baby safe haven centre, more primary and secondary schools, a police station, pre-paid water meters, electricity vending machines and tarred roads.”
NE: What are the common problems facing the people and how have you, as a councillor, intervened to resolve these?
MMW: “The common problems are unemployment, lack of houses, migration from rural to urban areas, the high number of shebeens, alcohol and drug abuse, gender-based violence, lack of parental guidance of children, lack of family support and shack fires.
“As a councillor for this constituency I have done quite a lot to resolve these issues. I have held and continue to have community meetings with residents where we discussed burning issues in our constituency and how best we can resolve such issues. I encourage parents to instil discipline in their children and teach them basic moral values.
“I have shared information with them on starting income-generating projects and for them to have backyard gardens where they can grow their own produce. I motivate and encourage children and emphasize to them the importance of education. Crime prevention programmes are ongoing in the constituency.
“I support the Constituency Development Fund, which should be established through an Act of Parliament, and a motion was already tabled in the National Council. Through this fund at least constituency projects can be given priority and ensure their implementation.”
NE: Crime is a nationwide problem. What kind of criminal activities are common in the constituency and how is your community involved in tackling this scourge?
MMW: “The most common criminal activities we face are baby dumping, murder, domestic violence, house breakings, theft out of motor vehicles, land grabbing, smuggling of drugs and rape. We have done quite a lot as a community to decrease the crime rate. We have come up with initiatives such as community policing, neighbourhood watch, public relations committees, women and men networks, training on dealing with domestic violence, quarterly mass prayers, regular patrol of police, satellite police stations, quarterly meetings with the police to address crime, youth meetings, crime orientation tours, and involvement in the City Police COPP 94.1 programmes to get first-hand information and make recommendations.
“We also have community leaders and elders keeping watch and they report straight to the constituency office and police for speedy action to be taken. To ensure that crimes are reported on time and action is taken, a police station will be constructed in the informal settlements. The site has been camped off already.”
NE: Are there any income generating projects in the constituency and how many jobs have these created?
MMW: “There have been 55 income-generating projects between 2008 and 2012 funded with about N$566 000. For the current financial year, N$s150 000 has been allocated to the constituency to fund about 24 projects.
“Besides the grants from the Khomas Regional Council, many people benefited from the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s grants. Companies such as Old Mutual and Fedex have allocated grants to some community members in the informal settlement areas.”
NE: What projects have you initiated since you were elected as the constituency councillor?
MMW: “I have initiated many projects in the constituency and also ensured their implementation. I spearheaded the construction of Otjomuise Primary School, and the same school is being upgraded to a primary school with recreational facilities and a playground. The project will be completed in September 2014.
“Two secondary schools, one opposite Otjomuise clinic and one next to the Michelle McLean Primary School will soon be constructed.
“So far 32 early childhood kindergartens are registered with the constituency office. One new clinic has been built in Otjomuise and Khomasdal clinic has been renovated, while the Khomasdal Medi-Centre has a few private doctors’ consultation offices.
“There is an Otjomuise mobile police station next to the Otjomuise community hall, while the new police station is soon to be constructed like I mentioned earlier. Otjomuise Woermann Brock, Khomasdal Woermann Brock , Khomas Mall, Khomasdal open market, and various playgrounds such as Sigma recreational park , Otjomuise community hall just to mention a few have been constructed.
“The whole of Sewende Laan now has communal taps and toilets, but it is a big challenge, since more than 40 people are using one toilet and one tap. The people on group erven and those buying erven have built their own private toilets and they have access to clean water in their homes. In Agste Laan, people illegally placed there by the City of Windhoek are using the communal taps and toilets, however most of the houses in Agste Laan are not electrified, but the electrification is being done in phases.
“To address the issue of housing, the City of Windhoek has entered into a private public partnership to service the land and to build houses. So far NHE has constructed houses, and people have obtained houses through groups and the Shack Dwellers Federation.
All the major roads are tarred in Khomasdal North constituency, but in the informal settlements only the main roads are tarred. The roads where new NHE houses are currently being built are also not yet tarred. We have a shortage of open markets and recreational facilities in Otjomuise, however a new recreational facility is planned to be built in Beijing Street in Otjomuise.”
NE: Can you share some of the successes in your constituency?
MMW: “There are many successes in the constituency that I spearheaded that I am proud of as the councillor. I have a hard-working team that is behind me and I can attribute such successes to the team as well. I am involved together with the City of Windhoek and other community members in the neighbourhood watch. We also have community leaders and elders watching out for criminal activities and they report straight to the constituency office and police for speedy action to be taken.
“I am happy that the community takes education very seriously hence the 32 early childhood kindergartens are registered with the constituency office and more schools are being constructed and renovated.
“Another success is that we have a Khomasdal North website and a councillor`s question time where I answer questions from the community about the development and envisaged projects.
“Also the construction of the two additional schools, one opposite Michelle McLean and another opposite the clinic. The other successes include a new Otjomuise clinic and Khomas Medi-Clinic; smooth running of income-generating projects; the receipt of over 400 serviced erven; lots of houses were built; business infrastructure; feeding programme for people living with HIV/Aids; more than 50 jobs were created through income-generating projects; an active constituency development committee; youth activities; close relations with Nampol and the City Police; a fire brigade station; a community resource centre and library; a project for elderly people; a programme to eat together , play together to build one Namibia one nation; and crime orientation tours – to make young people aware of the dangers of crime.
By Tunomukwathi Asino