There is no doubt that a number of citizens have been burdened with the far-reaching consequences of poor service delivery due to political and administrative infighting at local authorities. A number of local authorities have been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In March this year then urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga took the decisive step to suspend both the Rundu and Okahandja town councillors by placing the two local authorities under administration. At Rundu, Mushelenga argued the leadership squabbles and the mismanagement of funds at the town council led to the decision to recall the councillors.
At Okahandja, Mushelenga installed Linus //Garoeb to run the affairs of the council and to thoroughly investigate without fear, favour or prejudice the allegations of misconduct levelled against the CEO by suspended councillors. The suspension did not come as a surprise to many as the Garden Town has been a hotbed of divisive politics, while allegations of maladministration have been levelled against the authorities over the years. The never-ending squabbles have affected development at the town and this has been worsened by a government freeze on land sales. The land sales moratorium has been in place since 2015, while the urban and rural development ministry allegedly investigates irregular transactions.
Okahandja is one of the many municipalities that have been struggling to properly deliver services to residents. There are many others who have been incurring irregular and wasteful expenditure for a number of years. Tit-for-tat suspensions and infighting have further been reported at Grootfontein, where the municipal CEO this week admitted to the challenge in an address to staff. The local authority is so divided that it has been unable to host council meetings since May this year. What a mess!
In his own words, CEO Kisco Sinvula confessed to the lingering bad blood between him and senior staff. “However trying to discharge my professional duties and responsibilities in accordance with legal principles as dictated by governing Act, I encountered resistance from a clique of staff and some council members which resulted in internal and social media backlash lately,” he claimed in a statement this week. There is no doubt that this antagonistic relationship has led to a massive impact when it comes to delivery of services for local residents.
Grootfontein is a town that is grappling with so many challenges and it appears infighting among the top brass is prioritized at the expense of poor and disenfranchised residents. Interestingly, all this is playing itself out in an election year where one would expect the local authority to institutionalise its connection to residents, including promoting socio-economic development and delivery of basic services. At the end of the day, it is the local government’s service delivery programmes that suffer due to escalating factional fighting among those entrusted with the responsibility of championing bread and butter issues. It would be a sad day if the necessary steps are not taken against culprits who are merely there to look after their personal interests at the expense of residents. Development should be allowed to continue unhindered at our local authorities and if government-sanctioned investigators suspect corruption, then they ought to act.