Disgruntled Keetmanshoop residents have vowed to bring operations at Keetmanshoop Municipality and Southern Electricity Company (SELCo) to a standstill if the electricity distributor continues its operations at the town.
In a letter written to Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, on 23 November – a copy of which was seen by New Era – unhappy residents have demanded that Keetmanshoop Municipality take over electricity distribution at the town immediately, until Southern Red is established.
The residents have called the decision taken by the council, with the advice of the minister, to extend SELCo’s contract controversial, shocking and disappointing.
They say that electricity is a basic need, but many at the town many remain in darkness due to exorbitant tariffs, and this they say is the main reason why SELCo must pack its bags and go.
The community accuses the council and its administration of acting irresponsibly and carelessly regarding a decision that affects the residents and says it will no longer stand back and tolerate it.
“If these behaviours continue, the community will have to apply for a vote of no confidence against the council members,” reads the letter.
The community further warns the council to consider their demands and concerns favourably, noting that failure to do so would force them to take drastic measures against the administrations of both the municipality and SELCo.
“If after 14 working days we don’t receive a positive response, we will have no choice but to close the gates of the municipality and SELCo until favourable feedback is given,” they demanded.
Meanwhile, emotions ran high during a heated public meeting held on Tuesday at W K Röver Hall in Tseiblaagte, where the community members poured their hearts out against extending SELCo’s contract even for the supposed six months that the council has proposed.
Despite continued efforts by the mayor, Gaudentia Krohne, to explain that the municipality is not ready to take over electricity supply at the town, the residents were adamant that the municipality is ready and capable of taking over immediately. Residents bombarded the councillors present with questions why the takeover is dragging on for so long while Aranos, which is a small town, has successfully taken over electricity distribution in a short period of time.
Some community members alleged that the council members are somehow benefitting from the contract extension, while some accused the council of incompetence and that it is being remote controlled by the minister.
“ECB and the minister are remote controlling our council and you want us to just sit back, no we won’t allow that,” thundered Brendan Boois.
Krohne, who was chairing the meeting, had, on several occasions, to calm the people at the meeting down to maintain order, as things were getting personal, according to her.
“Let’s not attack individuals, let’s tackle and address the problem and let’s not get personal but resolve the problem because it’s our problem,” she said, as she tried to maintain order.
The council and a few community representatives held another meeting on Wednesday at the municipal chambers to address the electricity issue.