Geingob addresses regional issues

A fruitful discussion

21 July 2019 | Government

Dr Hage Geingob; President; The manner in which you convey your case can destroy it.

Swakopmund - Adolf Kaure

The head of state, Dr Hage Geingob, accompanied by a team of ministers, deputy ministers and special advisors held a public meeting for the Erongo region at the Swakopmund town hall on Thursday.

About 600 community members attended, with some afforded an opportunity to ask questions and raise their concerns with the president.

Twenty-two submissions were made by representatives of the business sector, youth, elderly, town councils and private sector.

This was the fifth meeting of its kind for the president who also visited the Trans Kalahari Highway project to asses progress on the highway that will serve as a corridor for Walvis Bay, Windhoek and Central Namibia through Botswana and South Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Geingob stressed the importance of respect and encouraged dialogue.

“The manner in which you convey your case can destroy it.”

He also recognised the threat of corruption at regional level and addressed recurrent concerns about service provision by members of the public sector.

Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila provided feedback about the current drought relief programme that has been underway since the declaration of drought as a national emergency on the occasion.

Arandis mayor Risto Kapenda expressed his concern about the limited funds the town council receives from the ministry of urban and rural development.

“There is a great need to investigate the socio-economic upliftment of the communities residing in this region so that they can also benefit from the thriving industries such as mining and fishing.”

Kapenda said the council is facing challenges from community members who struggle to pay their increased services fees on the one hand and have to maintain their households and families on the other.

“Unemployment is estimated at 33% in the country. This means in a small town such as Arandis with an estimated population of 11 000, more than 2 000 residents are unemployed. Service delivery is hampered due to the local lack of payment power which is at times below 50% and hence revenue collection is severely impacted.”

Kapenda said council had budgeted N$30 million for last year but for the whole financial year received N$1 million.

“The population is at our neck as they want serviced land and houses. This places additional strain on the existing infrastructure and affects service delivery negatively.”

In response, the minister of urban and rural development, Dr Peya Mushelenga, said his ministry only allocates funds to different local authorities based on what they receive from the ministry of finance.

“When you submit your budget to the ministry (of urban and rural development) and the ministry compiles the budget, it provides the budget to the minister of finance who prioritises issues. The budget that the ministry of urban and rural development received was not able to cater for the N$30 million you requested and that is why you received N$1 million.”

Lightning Aldo Mion of the Marijuana Institute of Namibia (MION) raised the issue of medicinal marijuana to be legalised.

“Through research we have found that marijuana can reverse HIV/Aids from 70 000 viral load to undetected. South Africa has legalised it, Uganda has done so and Zimbabwe has done so. Why are we also not doing the same?”

The deputy minister of health and social services, Juliet Kavetuna, replied that the issue of marijuana is fourfold.

“The first one is the establishment of plantations, and that might fall in another jurisdiction. Do you want to plant it? Lesotho is the only country been given permission to plant marijuana.”

Kavetuna added that South Africa legalised the use of marijuana in order for people to plant for their own consumption at home.

“Is it what we want? You have to come out and clearly say what it is that you want. Do you want to process marijuana so that you can set up a pharmaceutical plant? Such a plant needs a comprehensive plan which needs to go through required processes and regulations. It must be accredited by the World Health Organization because it is a medication.”

Geingob and his contingent of ministers, deputy ministers and special advisors are visiting all 14 regions of the country to conduct regional town hall public meetings. The process commenced on 11 July and will conclude on 13 August.

The next meetings are scheduled for Outapi (20 July) and Tsumeb (29 July). This will be followed by meetings in the Oshana Region on 5 August, the Ohangwena Region on 7 August and Kavango East on 8 August before proceeding to Kavango West the next day. The Zambezi region will be visited on 10 August.