Although Khorixas attracts quite a number of tourists, the town has an unemployment rate of more than 70 percent.
As a result, the unemployed youth in the rather sleepy southern town of the great Kunene Region, the majority of who are Grade 10 drop-outs, have little to nothing facilities.
Consequently, alcohol abuse and engaging in unsafe sexual activities are the norm, those who spoke to New Era say.
“More than 70 percent of the people here in Khorixas are unemployed. And these are the people who are getting services here from us. The few that are employed are also struggling to pay their municipal bills,” Nicodemus #Gaeseb, the Chief Executive Officer of the Khorixas Town Council revealed.
He explained that many people then evade paying their bills until their services are suspended. Hence, the town council is unable to generate revenue on its own and relies heavily on government for development.
However, Sebastian !Gobs, the Khorixas constituency councillor blames the lack of development and unemployment in the town to the lack of political will by the Swapo-led government to develop the town whose administration is in the hands of a ‘”minority party”.
“Young people are saying there is nothing that is why they opt to become alcoholics because they don’t have things to keep them busy,” !Gobs says. He further noted that there are many Grade 10 drop-outs in the Khorixas Constituency. “We have got three secondary schools in this area. Those young kids are roaming around the street but if we had a technical school then maybe a few of them could have been placed there because we want to be an industrialised country at the end of the day,” !Gobs stated.
Meanwhile, 31-year-old Saul Ubiteb says, “I have been unemployed from the day I failed my Grade 10.”
Ubiteb, who lives in Donkerhoek informal settlement, makes a living from selling crafts to tourists. He says, “There is no hope when it comes to handcraft in this town because we are many. We are about 25 people who survive on selling crafts.”
!Gobs is of the view that if government was more supportive, the picture in Khorixas would be different. “The politics of the day is the reason why Khorixas looks the way it does today. What is not happening here in Khorixas is due to politics,” !Gobs added.
Before independence, noted !Gobs, Khorixas was the centre of attraction. “All offices have been moved to Opuwo so what do you expect from this town if most of the things that could bring education and employment have been moved?” he queries.
Regional offices are better off when in the various towns in the Kunene Region and not just in Opuwo. “Decentralisation means that things should not be centralised at one point. But government is centralising things at one point,” an agitated !Gobs charges.
Furthermore, he is quick to add that investors are refusing to make their way to Khorixas because there are no regional offices here.
“Investors saw that people with power have moved to another area so how can they invest here. Investors are very much sensitive. They cannot come to an area where their businesses are standing as a white elephant,” !Gobs adds. There is only one supermarket in the town of Khorixas and as a result the prices are inflated, !Gobs noted.
“Many people travel to Otjiwarongo to do their shopping,” he adds.
Donkerhoek informal settlement
A brief visit to the sprawling Donkerhoek informal settlement painted a picture of despair and desperation.
Most residents of Donkerhoek live in corrugated and rusted shacks. Despite this, life goes on for these people. Here, loud music, alcohol consumption just like in most Namibian towns, are the order of the day. And, the children play and go by without worry of tomorrow.
Inhabitants of Donkerhoek who spoke to New Era had nothing but a raft of complaints, saying, they want basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity.
“This area is very dark,” Ubiteb remarked.
Meanwhile, #Gaeseb revealed that the Khorixas Town Council requested the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development for assistance to construct toilets for the informal settlement.
“The area has been demarcated. We have asked the people to build their houses in lines so that when we come we can put electricity, and roads. Maybe in the next two to three years when you come here you will see a different picture from the current one,” #Gaeseb noted.
He said inhabitants should patiently wait for the development of the town with its meagre resources.
“People should be patient because we are doing all this with money which is not ours. We put a request to government and as you know government has its own processes and it takes time. I don’t want informal settlements in an area such as this (Khorixas). We will do what we can to get this out of our way. People must stay on a formalised area where they can build their future on their plots,” #Gaeseb says.
Khorixas has got potential, !Gobs enthuses.
“We have many conservancies. In this area we have got the international heritage area at Twyfelfontein. Every day we count more than five buses and more than 10 small vehicles full of tourists passing by here to go to that area. If government can assist us with all the means then we will keep some of those tourists in Khorixas so that they invest in Khorixas,” !Gobs opines.
Stock theft takes up “a huge chunk” of the Khorixas magistrate’s court roll, Prosecutor Charly Iyambo notes. These investigations of these cases, he adds, take long to finalise because stock theft is usually based on hearsay information.
Domestic violence, on the other hand, is not so much on the court roll, Iyambo adds. “They tend to be resolved quite fast,” Iyambo adds.