The urban and rural development ministry will revise and amend two laws that govern the affairs of traditional leaders and traditional authorities due to many discrepancies.
Minister Erastus Uutoni said this in parliament last week while delivering the ministry’s budget motivation in the National Assembly.
The two laws are the Council of Traditional Leaders Act, 1997 (Act No. 13 of 1997) and its Amendment Act 31 of 2000 and the Traditional Authorities Act, 2000 (Act No. 25 of 2000).
“The ministry and stakeholders have identified several discrepancies and loopholes in the administration, and the application of the identified gaps have been hampering the effective application and administration of the two legislations by both the government and traditional authorities,” he said.
The minister said the review and amendment process is already underway.
He stated the ministry is busy with the development of an Urban Land Reform Programme, which will profile the trends and manifestations of urbanisation in the country and result in a framework that ensures a proactive strategy.
Uutoni recently stated his office is inundated with applications from “tribal chiefs” seeking recognition as traditional leaders by the government.
Uutoni told New Era his office has received numerous applications from various ‘chiefs’ requesting acknowledgement.
“Sometimes, you will find two people wanting to be recognised as chiefs of one traditional authority. We have so many such applications. I am now travelling; I could have shared the exact number with you – but there are a lot.”
According to information presented in parliament in 2017, there are 52 recognised chiefs costing government in excess of N$20 million each year.
Government pays a N$2 100 monthly allowance to each of the recognised chiefs and a N$1 800 monthly allowance to 306 senior traditional councillors.
It also pays a monthly allowance of N$1 600 to 306 junior traditional councillors, N$1 300 for each traditional authority secretary, N$1 000 monthly allowance for each traditional authority driver and a quarterly petrol allowance of N$3 000 to each recognised traditional authority.
In total, government spends N$20.6 million a year on traditional authorities.
Besides allowances paid, between 2009 and 2016, government handed brand new 4x4 Toyota Hilux double cabs to all recognised traditional authorities throughout the country.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 22nd annual meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Gobabis in 2019, President Hage Geingob said accommodating more applications for the recognition of traditional authorities would be financially unsustainable, and could lead to further tribal divisions.
The ministry, according to Uutoni, is also reviewing the Local Economic Development White Paper and developing a new framework for 2023 to 2027.
Following that, the ministry’s largest piece of cake, amounting to N$836 960 000, will go towards supporting and enhancing the operational and service delivery capacity of regional councils and local authorities as well as recognised traditional authorities.
A budgetary allocation of N$12 286 000 has been made to fund activities related to the decentralisation of additional functions to regional councils.
Uutoni said budget allocation will intensify ongoing and new initiatives, such as the finalisation of decentralisation of further functions from the ministries of sport, agriculture and labour.
“The budget will be intensified to review the section of the Regional Councils Act of 1992, as amended, which deals with human resources matters to address shortcomings in the existing provisions as well as to ensure harmony with the provisions of the Public Services Act of 1995 and the finalisation of the development of a Decentralisation Implementation Action Plan to ensure better coordination and commitment to agreed decentralisation targets and timelines.
“We will also continue to pursue the finalisation of the Regional and Constituency Development Fund Bill. We will continue with our capacity-building programmes, particularly in the area of financial management and related systems; to ensure that the decentralisation of functions is achieving its intentions, my ministry, together with ministries that have decentralised functions, will continue to jointly monitor and evaluate the effective integration and execution of the transferred functions and their impact on the community,” he explained.
Another N$250 000 000 is earmarked for this programme, which entails budgetary allocations to local authorities, regional councils and other role players to implement capital projects that will result in the construction of and access to basic municipal infrastructure and services as well as opportunities for housing, land tenure security and improved sanitation.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to scale up the provision of serviced urban land and housing, especially for the ultra-low and low-income groups, allocations in the amounts of N$9.5 million and N$10 million have been made under this year’s budget for the Build Together Programme (BTP) and the Shack Dwellers’ Federation of Namibia (SDFN), respectively,” he said.
The minister added the allocation to that programme during the 2021/2022 financial year, together with contributions by other partners such as National Housing Enterprises (NHE), the GIPF and SDFN Federation enabled the ministry and local authorities to service 1 751 plots and construct 1 479 new houses.
We also proclaimed 43 newly townships during the same period.
The budget total is N$1 331 773 000, of which N$1 031 773 000 is set aside for the operational budget and the balance of N$300 000 000 is earmarked for the development budget.
This year’s allocation represents a 15% reduction from last year’s budget allocation N$1 575 300 000) after the mid-term budget.