WINDHOEK - Aminuis Constituency Councillor Peter Kazongominja feels that had the long-overdue proposed Constituency Development Fund Bill, which was tabled in the National Council in 2015, been passed, the region could have had funds to contain the worsening and persistent famine in his drought-stricken area. With the prolonged drought in Aminuis Constituency in Omaheke Region, more than 300 livestock have died as farmers watch their animals helplessly succumb to famine.
The deplorable situation has forced many farmers in the area to relocate their animals to other constituencies as well as to other regions, especially to Otjozondjupa, for better grazing.
Aminuis Constituency Councillor Peter Kazongominja revealed the shocking statistics, saying the condition of the livestock has deteriorated since February this year due to the persistent drought.
He revealed that more than 17 000 livestock have been moved out of Aminuis to other areas in order for farmers to save them from the ravages of the drought. Kazongominja yesterday said they are still waiting for any aid from central government – be it financial or food aid for both humans and livestock.
It is against this background that he is pushing for fast-tracking the draft Constituency Development Fund which could alleviate the current drought conditions in the area.
He revealed that the National Council is still waiting for the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development to consider the proposed Bill aimed at introducing a Constituency Development Fund.
The Bill was the initiative of the National Council in 2015 to provide funds to regional councillors to implement developments in their respective constituencies.
It seeks to assist regional councillors to undertake and hasten small developmental projects in their areas, as funds will be available for such purposes.
“Up until today, there is nothing. I heard government approved maize meal but we are still waiting. Farmers are struggling by all means to survive. Most who are unable to buy fodder lost their livestock. Every day farmers call me asking when will they get some fodder and food. But there is nothing I can do because if the government cannot do something, then I can also not do anything,” he said.
He therefore feels that if the fund is established then constituencies would have some funds to tackle challenges such as drought instead of waiting for long periods for the central government to jump in. Kazongominja yesterday raised the issue of the long-overdue draft Bill in the National Council – for the Urban and Rural Minister Peya Mushelenga to table it in the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
“If we can have constituency development funds, this will go a long way in helping constituencies in times of emergencies such as the drought we are facing. We are struggling to make ends meet. How long should we wait from central government? If we can have this fund then it would help the situation and make constituencies financially independent. We even posed this question during the state of the nation address this year to His Excellency [President Hage Geingob] but we are still waiting,” he reacted.
Regional councillors are often blamed by their constituents for not delivering on promises to bring services and development, despite the fact that councillors do not have a budget to implement their plans.
According to the report compiled by the committee during the consultative meetings in 2015, the fund will be administered by the chief regional officer under the direction of a board comprising all regional councillors of all constituencies.
The board will be chaired by the chairperson of the management committee of the regional council.
The board will receive and address people’s complaints and submit quarterly reports on constituency projects to the regional governor.
National Council members felt the constituencies should be allocated funds yearly to meet the basic needs of the people.
At the time, former Swapo chief whip Bernard Sibalateni said there was nothing sinister about the establishment of the fund.