Local businessman Knowledge Katti has availed N$100 000 to the Gobabis Municipality to help debt burdened pensioners settle their municipal arrears in excess of N$3 million at the eastern town.
The donation was announced on Monday by Omaheke Regional Governor Festus Ueitele, during President Hage Geingob’s town hall meeting with Omaheke residents.
Pensioners who attended the meeting pleaded for assistance from Geingob to have their municipal debts written off, as they said they would not manage to do so.
Geingob said he would take up the matter with Cabinet to see how government can assist the pensioners, adding that most of the debts are mainly historical.
The town council’s CEO Ephraim Dawids told New Era after the meeting that council was struggling to recover the funds.
“Apart from the N$3 million owed by pensioners, there is also N$2.5 million owed by deceased persons; this money will obviously never be recovered,” he said.
Ueitele urged other businessmen to follow suit.
Ueitele yesterday said Katti called him on Monday to tell him about his intentions to contribute to the lowering of the pensioners’ debt.
“Comrade Katti called me Monday, telling me he was aware of the living standards of the people in the region, and that he was aware of the debts pensioners have at the municipality, hence he wants to join the call of the President by pledging N$100 000 towards the reduction of the municipal debt of senior citizens,” said Ueitele.
He reiterated his call for businesses to contribute to the reduction of the debt, singling out auctioneers in the region such as Karoo-Ochse, Windhoek Livestock Auctioneers and Agra to step in.
“People of this region sell their cattle every Friday to these auctioneers; sometimes not even getting the price they want because the auctioneers are dictating. If the auctioneers can just each donate N$1 from every cow they sell, it will go a long way in assisting the people of the region,” he said.
Ueitele said the electricity and water tariffs are too high for pensioners. “Even if their water and electricity are disconnected, the rates and taxes keep on rising, so the debt keeps increasing,” he said.
Discussions are ongoing between the regional governor and the municipality to see how the debt can be settled.
“We have to remember that the municipality makes money from the services they provide in order to sustain themselves. If the debts are written off without any money being paid to the council, the council will sit in debt. This means it will not be able to provide services such as the construction of roads, refuse removal and even paying its own employees,” he said.