Better sanitation, provision of residential land, increased youth funding and calls to write off the outstanding municipal debts of pensioners are just some of the requests inhabitants of Omaheke Region want government to attend to.
The requests were made on Monday morning in Gobabis when over 400 community members attended an interactive town hall meeting with President Hage Geingob at Ben van der Walt Primary School.
During his address, Geingob briefly explained several government concepts,such as the ‘Namibian house’, which he says should assist all Namibians to pull in the same direction in government’s ongoing fight to eradicate poverty before opening the floor for questions. Pensioners who took the floor showered Geingob with praise for the recent old-age pension increase, which was upped from N$600 to N$1000 earlier this year, but Geingob modestly attributed the decision to the entire Cabinet, whom he says were all instrumental in ensuring the increase is implemented.
During the marathon meeting that lasted for five hours, pensioners also called on government to construct an old age home at the town, as many have resorted to sleeping in the streets because they have nowhere to go.
The pensioners also want government to consider writing off their municipal debts, which are currently in excess of N$3 million, saying they will never be able to pay off what they owe the town council.
Some pensioners also want support from government to start their own income-generating projects instead of them idling at home without anything to do.
At the time of the last national census in 2011, the total population of the Omaheke Region was 71 233. Furthermore, only 34.2 percent of households in the region have flushing toilets, while the national average stands at 39.5 percent.
Despite the cries for the provision of potable water and more water points in rural areas in the region, the census showed that over 85 percent of the region’s inhabitants have access to safe drinking water.
The youth called for an increased allocation to the youth ministry to cater for more youth programmes, while calls for a national youth development plan were also made. Other community members requested government to revisit the criteria used to allocate resettlement farms, especially the time it takes for the allocations to be made.
Responding to the community’s concerns and requests President Geingob assured the pensioners that he would table their request that unpayable municipal debts be written off before Cabinet to see how the matter can be resolved.
“We will look at it, because some of these debts are historical debts. I will take the matter to Cabinet so that we can see how we can meet you halfway,” Geingob said.
As for the request by the youth, Geingob said budget allocations would never be sufficient for all sectors: “Even the rich want more money, which just goes to show that no one will ever be satisfied with the budget allocations.” He also urged the youth to live disciplined lives, instead of adopting the get-rich-quick approach.
“Some of the youth get fishing quotas, buy expensive cars and go on drinking sprees. Some even die, because they get involved in accidents while intoxicated. The youth must know that becoming successful takes time,” he said. The president also urged community members to approach the regional leadership if they have concerns, instead of bypassing them.
Following the public meeting, Geingob and his entourage visited Omaheke Resource Centre and Rakukuta Two location, where they inspected serviced land. The president’s high-level entourage included eight Cabinet ministers, as well as deputy ministers and his team of advisors.
From today to Friday, the president will hold three town hall meetings in Khomas Region.