Financial squeeze besieges development in Kavango East

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Staff Reporter
Rundu

The delays to release funds for development projects have affected the Kavango East region, which has asked the government to look at ways to finance the many projects that have been left unfinished.

This was revealed by the deputy director of planning at Kavango East Regional Council (KERC) Herculano Mwenyo during his discussion with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi. Katjavivi was in Rundu as part of his office’s outreach visits to regions across the country.

Mwenyo said the current financial squeeze in the government is negatively affecting the construction industry, where many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have closed down, or abandoned work sites, as they are not being paid on time.

“We are currently implementing various projects that we hope at the end of the day might contribute to the betterment of our community but then in line with our financial difficulties that we are experiencing, I must inform you that we are currently finding ourselves in very awkward situations where we have engaged services of our SMEs but then unfortunately there is a serious delay in terms of their payments for services rendered,” Mwenyo said.

“In the meantime the government is still engaging in new projects, but my recommendations would probably be instead of us coming up with new projects, first let’s clear the backlog that we are having so that at the end of the day we don’t kill our SMEs known as ‘tenderpreneurs’, I mean they are the backbone of our economy,” Mwenyo added.

“So the message from me is that the government should clear the backlog because currently there’s a serious problem in terms of the construction industry – there are a lot of people who are being laid off and people are losing their positions because of the debts we are owing them,” he said.

Katjavivi responded: “When you delay payment of an SME with limited resources, that SME can basically collapse because it will have a direct impact on their capacity to exist and function as an entity, so yes I do share that concern. We will also reinforce the message you have articulated.”

Katjavivi told Rundu residents the aim of his visit was to bring parliament to the people. “I am extremely delighted to be here in my official capacity as Speaker of the National Assembly in keeping with the mandate of parliament,” Katjavivi said.

“The purpose of my coming here is really to bring parliament to the people and together with the various standing committees of parliament that visit various regions around the country we undertake this kind of visit to engage citizens, to exchange views with them, to listen to them so that we know precisely what are your main preoccupations. So it is part of my oversight mandate to do so,” Katjavivi added.

Another concern was the effect of decentralisation on the region. The University of Namibia was singled out, with residents saying the branch in Rundu only offers a few courses. The residents want a wider offering of courses, especially as many parents are unable to send their children to the main campus in Windhoek for studies. Currently the University of Namibia in Rundu only offers education, commerce, business and nursing.

“The reason why I believe decentralisation is being delayed is because some learners from extremely rural areas get good results to qualify at institutions of higher learning but such persons have no money to go and study as well as pay costly Windhoek accommodation, but at least here in the region we can share the accommodation with our relatives and can be able to walk and study to get an education,” said Rundu resident Ludgela Nangura.

Nangura believes if the government delays decentralising training to the regions it will be tough to realise Vision 2030.

“We will not make it if we don’t capacitate our people, especially youths,” she said.

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