Opuwo-The inadequate development of the Kunene Region can squarely be attributed to the infighting among leaders so much that at least 80 percent of the budget from central government goes back to treasury.
“Conflict is just too much among us. Kunene’s issue is just people fighting among each other too much that we do not attain any developmental agenda or target that we have put for ourselves,” remarked the recently appointed regional governor, Marius Sheya, in an interview with new Era on Monday.
Each year, Sheya says, budget allocations for different projects are returned to treasury because of the infighting between traditional leaders, local authorities, constituencies and even in the governor’s office.
Thus, the priority on his to-do list is to tackle the disunity in the region. The youthful governor, plucked from relative obscurity when President Hage Geingob named him governor late last year, revealed that through community and leadership consultations, he promised them two things; namely working in unison and to develop the region.
“So if somebody has to come to this office and present fighting letters we are not going to entertain those things. What we are really sitting with is serious issues. If you go to Okanguati and see where people get water from you will start crying,” Sheya said firmly.
Through various consultations, Sheya also learned that there was a duplication of projects from different ministries and local authorities. “They do not have an end result because nobody is taking ownership of these issues. I want us to concentrate on projects that will really change people’s lives,” said Sheya.
Kunene Region was plagued by severe drought for the past seven years and is one of the poorest regions in the country. According to a recent report by the Namibia Statistics Agency, Kunene Region is one of the poorest regions in Namibia, with Epupa Constituency in that region, being amongst the very poorest.
Despite this, most poverty indicators suggest that poverty levels have declined over the last five years, as per the NSA’s Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2015/2016 report.
In addition, Sheya noted that giving to the communities is not enough. “We want to teach people so that they can maintain and innovate for themselves,” he added.
The Kunene Region has been rated the last in terms of customer service, according to a survey by the Office of the Prime Minister, said Sheya.
“Our region is rated last in terms of service delivery. We need to address that. We want to address that and collectively as a team we have said we are going to address that,” said Sheya.
Stressing on development, Sheyasaid he is aware of the rich natural resources of the region and wants this to benefit the region’s inhabitants.
“We are going to do things collectively to develop this region equally and fairly for everybody,” Sheya, a former mayor of Outjo, said.
He also touched on the vastness and uniqueness of the region, saying: “The level of poverty and the absence of economic activities that could benefit the people on the grassroots are some of the challenges. We have quite a lot to offer as a region but we have not really used or tapped into that potential”.