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Editorial - City must rise from the ashes 

2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

Editorial - City must rise from the ashes 
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We watched with keen interest this week as five prospective candidates for the City of Windhoek CEO position slugged it out during public presentations. 

Although the crucial oral interviews were not publicised, candidates were nevertheless afforded the opportunity to sell themselves to the public and before a competent panel as far as their strategic intent in transforming the city is concerned. 

As expected, the candidates made lofty promises, including interventions on rapid land delivery, proper governance, an effective debt collection plan as well as containing the city’s skyrocketing wage bill. 

All candidates were in agreement that for the city to flourish and work in the best interest of the residents, those within the municipality should differentiate between the roles played by each stakeholder, while organisational channels should be followed. 

There is indeed a massive weight of expectation on whoever would be appointed City of Windhoek CEO, considering it is one of the most sought-after executive positions in the country.   

However, there is much work to be done. 

The city has a potpourri of challenges including a considerable N$1.5 billion wage bill, which continues to put pressure on its limited resources. Salaries and wages make up the bulk of the wage bill at N$785 million, followed by housing allowances at N$268 million, the medical aid fund at N$138 million, and N$137 million for pension contributions. 

Commentators as well as insiders have also in the past spoken out about the convoluted decision-making processes, which undermine good corporate governance practices. 

Another challenge, which has reared its ugly head at the city, is the continuous political meddling in administrative and operational affairs by municipal councillors. 

Because of their overwhelming power, councillors have used their influence in the past to push for certain appointments as well as allocate land to their well-connected cronies. 

This has been done at the expense of Namibians who find themselves priced out of the topsy-turvy property market. 

The new regime running the city through a coalition is not holier-than-thou either. Cracks of division and clashes among councillors have already hogged media headlines.

 

The councillors also faced a baptism of fire in the form of illegal land grabbing activities across the city, which has divided council, while mayor Job Amupanda recently demanded fellow coalition partners to operationalise their agreement as a matter of urgency. 

So, apart from rendering the new CEO the necessary support, the city should equally get its house in order and focus on pertinent service delivery issues, including devising a proactive and clear land release strategy as well as ensuring the ambitious smart city concept is realised to the benefit of all stakeholders. 

Windhoek must move to tackle its toxic culture, especially against councillors and senior management, who stand in the way of development. Only time will tell whether the city will be able to rise from the ashes this time around and chart a positive way forward.


2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

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