Windhoek: a thirsty, leaderless city

The ‘jobs for the boys’ shenanigans surrounding the recruitment of a new chief executive officer for the City of Windhoek are exacerbating a litany of socio-economic problems faced by the residents. Windhoek – the administrative seat of government – has been without a de facto CEO since 2014 due in large part to cronyism, obviously fuelled by greed and the prospects of future favours from whoever is preferred by the political principals of the day. Such principals have no regard for the plight of residents, including dwellers in the mushrooming shacks reported in New Era this week, let alone the looming water crisis the city faces. Who, in the absence of a substantive city head, will save us from the current water crisis, which is expected to take its toll by August?
The City of Windhoek itself has gone public to announce stringent measures to save water. It said the situation is so dire that water rationing is a real possibility. Yet our politicians at the City seem to have placed their personal egos and self-interest at the forefront – not caring one iota about the implications of further delays in this process.
Evidently, patronage, rather than capability, has been the hold-up of the selection process. And that’s a shame, because there are many skilled, competent, honest and conscientious Namibians from all races and regions who could be appointed to this position.
It is now clear as daylight that what has been missing in this process are authoritative interventions to arrest the politicisation and “patronagisation” of the recruitment processes. Those involved have been allowed to behave as if they are a law unto themselves – with blatant impunity.
Unless the process is depoliticised and depatronised, this needless delay would continue unabated. Consequently, industries and the poor will pay the price when the realities of the envisaged water crisis hit home. And when that happens, those in charge of this process would be asked to account, because this is a practical consequence of incompetent cadres being deployed – who in turn have little regard for the residents’ and country’s plight. Windhoek is becoming the joke of Africa, due to the very problem of crony capitalism that has engulfed the city. Those with friends in positions of influence may eat. Others must fend for themselves. What a city!
To put it bluntly, some of the people involved in this contentious recruitment process seem to lack values, principles or ethics. To them, public service is not a major concern, but accruing wealth at the expense of poor communities is what keeps them up at night.
The ruling Swapo Party dominates the City Council. With these shenanigans, the party’s decorated legacy and good intentions are heavily undermined by individuals, who appear to have little, if any, regard for anything other than their pockets.
Is it perhaps time an ultimatum is issued as to when the recrutiment process must be concluded, so that life in the city can go on again, without quarrelling, manipulation and underhanded behind-the-scenes lobbying?
Windhoek needs water. It needs proper sanitation and dignified housing. The city needs to attract more investment and continue attracting rave international reviews as a top African destination. The city needs a leader – not a corruptible friend of powerful political principals – to help achieve such goals.

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