OSHAKATI - Swapo and Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) councillors at Oshakati are at loggerheads after the ruling party rejected the IPC’s motion for council to set up a brick-making factory and to restrict individuals from making bricks at the town.
The IPC is pushing for the council to be the sole maker of bricks at the town, claiming that the project being pitched will enable low-income earners to procure bricks at a lower rate from the council.
In a motion which stems from March this year, IPC councillor Jerobeam Ndaamohamba said many local communities have been excluded from accessing formal housing because bricks are too expensive for those who are unemployed, or those whose income is very low.
He said there is a demand for bricks in residential areas, but the supply is very low because the prices are too high for the majority of residents in informal settlements.
“Many local communities have been excluded from accessing the formal housing market due to low incomes or unemployment, and the high cost of housing materials such as bricks,” said Ndaamohamba.
In addition to availing affordable bricks, the IPC councillor said the factory would create much-needed jobs for locals.
The same motion was brought to the table again on 21 June this year by IPC councillor Martha Imene.
She stressed then that should the project be realised, individual businesses at Oshakati will not be allowed to engage in brick-making businesses and to subsequently compete with the council’s project.
“Therefore, council should pass a binding resolution to restrict private business entities from competing directly with the council,” added Imene.
This move was strongly objected to by Swapo councillors, resulting in a heated council meeting.
Swapo’s Hofeni Mutota, who is the chairperson of the management committee, opposed the motion. He said article 98 of the Namibian constitution stipulates that the economy of Namibia shall be based on the principle of a mixed economy with the objective of securing economic growth, prosperity and a life of dignity for all Namibians.
Mutota stressed that the mandate, duties, functions and responsibilities of local authorities in the country are anchored on providing services to its inhabitants, as well as providing a conducive local economic environment for investments.
“A brick-making project is not a core mandate of the council, as per section 30. Therefore, entrepreneurs and the private sector may commercially invest in this venture,” he observed. Mutota thus felt that it is not advisable for council to approve a motion which limits competition, local investments and curtails local economic development.
The management committee is yet to sit to discuss the merits of the motion further.