Challenges in the Karas & Hardap Region by Regional Local Authorities

The Karas & Hardap Regional Local Authorities “aired their grievances” through a 15 minutes presentation on the Challenges and Opportunities that each Local Authority are confronted with. ALAN was therefore happy to learn that a comprehensive report on the challenges of the Local Authorities in the two Regions had been compiled on the request by the two Governors, (Hon. Swartbooi and Hon. Hanse-Himarwa) for further submission to His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, the President of the Republic of Namibia. The report is also to be made available to the ALAN Management.

The Oranjemund Town Council briefly shared the challenges they are experiencing since proclamation with the biggest challenges being the Line Ministry (MRLGHRD) having proclaimed the town without suitable systems in place. These are systems such as:

  1. NAMDEP owns all the properties in the town and there is no serviced land available for future investments by the Town Council.
  2. Currently the Management of the town is still being administered by NAMDEP as they are still directly paying for the bulk suppliers.
  3. Council foresees a challenge with residents being required to pay for property tax and municipal services which is not the scenario at present.

In response to these challenges; ALAN has resolved to undertake a familiarization mission to Oranjemund in order to further familiarize itself with the challenges on the ground. In addition to in-house local government issues discussed; external service providers offered presentations on their products and services earmarked to benefits local authorities in general. After these presentations, general discussions were held and the ALAN MC further deliberated on the products and services marketed. Further discussions with the service providers pertaining to specificities in regards to required roles, responsibilities and benefits for ALAN and its members were held. The three (3) companies were thus encouraged to consider forming a partnership and thereafter come up with one concrete proposal to ALAN. The following services/products were marketed:

  1. Sewage Treatment Advance Technology by Hanago Enterprises
  2. Kiosk Solution on Prepaid Water System by Hybrid United Metering Systems
  3. Turbo Flow Tubes for Local Authorities by Ark Water Systems

Matters of Concern Highlighted by the ALAN MC Requiring Urgent Action by the Line Ministry, the Ministry of Regional, Local Government Housing & Rural Development (MRLHRD):

The 2nd day dealt with internal administrative and policy as well as financial matters of ALAN. The meeting terminated in the issuance of the following Communiqué for public consumption:

  1. The MRLGHRD must ensure that all systems are in place before towns are to be proclaimed.
  2. That it be noted that ALAN deals or intervenes with community matters only when such a request is received from any particular Local Authority as ALAN has no jurisdiction or authority to entertain discussions with individuals or community activist as its mandate focuses on Local Authorities.
  3. ALAN calls for the speedy finalization of the Local Government Reform Paper that will in turn ensure the implementation of the amendments to the Local Authority Act as it seek to redress the following issues (or lack thereof) currently serving as a great impediment to effective and efficient local governance in Namibia:
  4. 3.1 Introduction of the Executive Mayor System.
    3.2 Unrelenting mediocre working conditions & benefits for political office bearers at Local Authority level.
    3.3 Conflicting/and duplicating legal mandates in relation to the Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs) mandates versus the legal mandate of Local Authorities: before the introduction of the REDs electricity sales used to be the key source of income for most local authorities- thus ALAN calls upon the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Local Government to host the long overdue National Electricity Summit that will allow all the affected stakeholders to commence upon the discourse that will offer the ultimate amicable solution to this continual situation.
    3.4 Full recognition of the legal mandate of the Association of Local Authorities
    3.5 Land Use Planning & Land Use Management: Proposed Amendments to the Sales of Urban Land.

The proposed amendments to the sales of urban land (as recently proposed by the Hon. Minister of Regional, Local Government, Housing & Rural Development Hon. Jerry Ekandjo and the recent public call by His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, the President of the Republic of Namibia) are directly aimed at addressing historical imbalances in terms of access to ownership of land in urban areas thus enabling the marginalized populace access to land. It also aims to control the culture of speculation that has lately caused prices in this sector to increase unabatedly. ALAN is fully cognizant of the fact that these amendments might affect the income of municipalities negatively as land sales remains an important source of income for Local Authorities, but we believe these to be in the short term and the losses of economic nature must be viewed against the background of the social benefits for the majority of our people. Thus, ALAN fully supports the proposed amendments!

It is however our hope and believe that the implementation of the amendments will of course be dealt with, with the compensatory alternative such as predictable direct Subsidies from central government (including direct subsidies for servicing of land) to all Local authorities in Namibia.

The policy objectives proposed amendments will at most address the sale of land on Private Treaty as apposed to the rather profitable (for Local Authorities) option of Auctions. Indeed the changes need to further be combined with exploring other options for revenue generation as one of the key costs that drive up land prices is the cost of servicing land. Local Authorities can therefore consider differentiating between land for residential and social purposes with land earmarked for business and industrial purposes and get corresponding market related income from land for business purpose and for higher income groups etc. Another option already being explored by some local authorities already is the practice of using unused town lands for agricultural purposes by working either in partnership with private business or by establishing special purpose companies.

In so far as the proposed amendments are to give access to land for marginalized Namibians; ALAN supports the amendments as long is it will be balanced with predictable subsidies to local governments while finding alternative ways to strengthen the revenue base of Local Authorities in Namibia are being explored.

In conclusion, the ALAN President, Hon. Agnes M. Kafula on behalf of the ALAN Management and the entire local government fraternity - all its 51 members/Local Authorities in Namibia wishes to congratulate our Line Minister, Hon. Jerry Ekandjo for his nomination as a Vice President candidate!