KAVANGO West Governor Sirkka Ausiku has been engaging stakeholders in the region since she took over the political leadership of the region, in order to see progress in the region as well as address the many challenges affecting residents here. Last year she held two meetings and last week she held another. With nearly a year in office, Ausiku walks reporter John Muyamba through her journey thus far.
New Era (NE): You’ve held a series of meetings with investors and government officials. What have you learned from such meetings, regarding progress on programme implementation in the region?
Sirkka Ausiku (SA): I have learned that most of our projects in Kavango West were not implemented by different line ministries as per budget book, and mind you most of the ministries are not decentralised except the Ministry of Education, which we have also learned that some of their projects are handled at a national level from their head office and only few are handled by the regional office through Kavango Regional Council. But even those projects that are being handled by Kavango Regional Council through the directorate of education you see that the progress is as low as 40 percent and the financial year is coming to an end within two weeks and some days. Now those ministries with projects that go through the national Tender Board, we have learned from the Tender Board Secretariat that only 20 percent of the tenders were awarded for this financial year and I’m disappointed.
NE: What were the line ministries’ excuses for not delivering on time, during your meetings with them recently?
SA: I have to single out the Ministry of Safety and Security, their national level representatives always come because they are the ones that deal with capital projects and their projects are currently underway. They reported that the Tender Board has approved their projects for our region and they are currently implementing such decisions. Maybe the Ministry of Safety and Security are the 20 percent that got tenders approved by the Tender Board but the rest are not doing enough. They said their tenders were referred back because of certain things that they did not meet and they were supposed to respond back and get the tenders approved but it seems they didn’t.
NE: The hospital and the clinic designated for the town of Nkurenkuru is still not realised. What is the status of that project?
SA: For this financial year, the ministry of health only budgeted for the fencing of the area and servicing of the land, to put on water and sewer reticulation. The ministry of health has also appointed a consultant, who will be spearheading the project as they also need to do some studies like the environment impact assessment and so forth, I think they are on track and soon you will see movement there.
NE: How is the government involved in the development of Nkurenkuru and/or what can government do to assist?
SA: The government has provided or allocated money for land servicing and you can see we are doing that already. If you go around Nkurenkuru, you will see it for yourself. There is no virgin land in Nkurenkuru, people need to be moved to make way for development and so we hope the ministry of local government will have to provide money in their new budget for the council to use to compensate the people who are giving the land as they need to settle elsewhere. The people are willing to move.
NE: What is the main focus for the region this year? What can the residents expect in terms of development?
SA: We are still waiting for the national budget to be tabled in order for us to see the priorities. We need to see what is in for Kavango West but I have been campaigning or trying to highlight the plight of the region. It’s not fair to treat us like other established regions. This year we hope and are expecting to see the four new constituency offices built, namely Ncamagoro, Mpungu, Mankumpi and Tondoro constituency offices and we are indeed a fresh region and we are starting from scratch so I hope they will attend to our plea and treat us as a new region without any infrastructure.
NE: And what do you expect in terms of offices of various ministries being set up in the region?
SA: I have also engaged ministries and what they were telling us in the meetings is that they have to approach the Public Service Commission to create structures for Kavango West and I hope that is what they have been doing and in the coming financial year all ministries should budget for the establishment of offices here because our people can’t continue travelling to Rundu for services. But then again the problem is the region’s capital, Nkurenkuru, needs infrastructure to set up the offices and accommodation for workers so waiting for the ministries to construct will delay the establishments. So business people should give a helping hand by building infrastructure for rental instead of ministries waiting for the government office park, which might not be enough. So business people [should] take up the challenge to assist us.
NE: What is your overall view of the last stakeholders’ meeting which you called on March 4 and 5?
SA: I was not happy with most of the ministries, it seems some of them are treating Kavango West and East as one region although the development budget made it clear that these regions have different budgets. They must treat us separately and if the national Tender Board is telling us that the projects for Kavango West are only 20 percent implemented then as a governor I’m not happy. It’s a disappointment, why? Because to me by now line ministries were supposed to have put all the budgeted money for the region into use because I did not hear reasons that projects could not be implemented because of non-availability of land. We only heard that it was because of the national Tender Board, but the Tender Board, on the other hand, is telling us that there are just questions that ministries need to answer before tenders could be approved. These ministries sit on these submissions without going back to the Tender Board to finish and get their tenders approved and that was the case with Kandjimi Murangi Secondary School whereby the money was budgeted for the school and then the ministry sat on it. I’m just appealing to the line ministries at their head offices to take Kavango West seriously as a new region and to understand that we are not part of Kavango East.