The Omusati Regional Education Directorate’s N$12 million deficit has left the region begging service providers to whom it is apparently heavily indebted not to shut down basic services.
The accumulated debt is for services, such as water and electricity, as well as to a catering company that supplies food to hundreds of boarding schools in the region.
Sources have indicated that the education directorate has not been receiving its monthly allocation since June and, as a result, all invoices issued to the regional directorate in July and August remain unpaid.
A source said the debt also includes N$2.6 million owed to Otja Trading, which is contracted to supply stationery and books to the Omusati Region.
“The English version books were delivered last year, but the bulk supply of Oshikwanyama and Oshindonga books are still sitting in Windhoek, because the bill has not been settled,” a the source revealed.
Educators now fear that electricity and water supply to schools in the region may be cut off by the time classes resume next semester.
There is also a lingering fear that the catering company responsible for supplying the hostels would not deliver food when schools reopen next week, unless they receive the outstanding payments.
It is understood that education managers in the region have been appealing to services providers not to suspend their services.
“Even the water at the regional headquarters has been cut off and the region had to beg NamWater to reconnect the water,” one of the sources confided.
The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Education said a total of N$540 million has already been transferred to all the regions and the next fund transfer is in process.
However, there are regional offices that maintain investments accounts with commercial banks, the ministry’s spokesperson said, and although the money due to them has already been transferred, it is tied up in investment accounts.
“It has come to the attention of the ministry that some regional offices have opened and still maintain investment accounts with commercial banks. Thus funds that have already been transferred to the regional offices are tied up in these regional investment accounts. As a result the regional offices cannot access such funds,” he said.
The ministry has in the meantime issued an internal memo for such accounts to be closed and further prohibits the opening of bank accounts without treasury authorisation.
Loide Shatiwa, the Acting Director of Education in the Omusati Region, dismissed the allegations and claimed the region does not have any deficit.
“This is news to me. We do not have any deficit. Our water and electricity have not been cut off and we’ve never had a case where children have nothing to eat. We will see what happens when school resumes [next week],” Shatiwa said.