Linyanti and Judea Lyaboloma Constituency councillor, Cletius Sipapela, has refuted claims that the Mayeyi areas falling under his constituencies are being excluded from government development projects while being politically marginalised.
This follows a story published in New Era newspaper last week in which Mayeyi community members complained of exclusion and marginalisation at both political and development level.
Sipapela believes there are detractors that are hell-bent on tarnishing his name, as he says his constituencies have seen more development than most areas.
“Unfortunately, the political exclusion claim is not under my domain but statements that I am side-lining development in Mayeyi areas are unfounded. It’s sad to see that some people we consider as highly educated engage in tarnishing other people’s names for their own interests. Development in the south-western part of our region is better than some areas in the eastern part,” noted Sipapela.
Sipapela noted that before he came into office in 2011 only two villages had benefited from the government rural electrification programme.
“For someone to say Linyanti is not better off is beyond me. When I came into office in 2011 only two villages were electrified. Now, a number of villages have benefited, including Batubaja, and Sangwali is being electrified as we speak. Potable water is also available in a number of villages,” boasted Sipapela.
He further cleared the air regarding the water pipeline that has stopped at his village of Kapani, saying the pipeline was an on-going project that depended on the availability of funds.
“There’s no truth that I brought the pipeline to my village. We work according to a budget and phases. In the next phase it will be extended. That pipeline was even an initiation of my predecessor Dorothy Kabula,” stated Sipapela.
He noted those complaining of lack of development were distant observers, who know nothing about development plans in the area, and it is likely that they do not attend constituency development committee (CDC) meetings.
“We have CDC meetings regularly where these issues are discussed. It appears these people are not part of these meetings. No leader in Swapo can sideline any community. It’s against party policy,” emphasized Sipapela.
He noted that delays in availing land for development purposes, on the other hand, were also stunting progress.
“We have requested for more land to expand the constituency offices and build staff accommodation as well as for aquaculture but we have not received a response from the traditional authority up to now. I cannot build or start a project on customary land if it’s not availed,” he told New Era in reaction to the claims.
He, however, listed a number of other capital projects in the area among them the construction of a police station, schools and other infrastructure.
“There are plans for Sangwali to become a settlement area. A police station is being constructed as we speak. The Road Contractor Company (RCC) has also donated a centre there that is part of development. Two new primary schools (Kachelamupepo and Mukorof) were built and Sangwali has the only school hostel to be built in Zambezi Region since independence. We also have the MR125 road with an access road that goes up to the Khuta,” further explained Sipapela.
Other developments cited by Sipapela include three conservancies of Barerwa, Djoti and Wuparo that bring thousands of dollars to the community annually through community-based natural resource management (CBNRM).
According to Sipapela, the Mayeyi Traditional Authority is one of two traditional authorities that have benefited from the construction of a building that is replete with offices, a boardroom and a kitchen.
Sipapela further explained that as a councillor his hands were at times tied, as he has no control over the budget and despite initiating projects their implementation depended on the availability of funds.
“It’s people’s right to complain but people must complain genuinely. People should learn to consult their CDCs. Development can only happen when there’s money. As a councillor, unfortunately I don’t control the budget. I just beg for money from line ministries and this may take time because Namibia as a whole is vast,” he said.
The Mayeyi community has been moaning over the slow pace of development in the area, particularly electricity and water provision. It has since fallen out with Sipapela alleging that he has been sidelining Mayeyi areas in terms of development.