The Otjiu-West community in Opuwo Rural constituency of Kunene region, have seemingly grown disillusioned with politics, saying they are not excited about next week’s regional council and local authority elections.
With a population of more than 2 500 residents, Otjiu-West is a village situated some 150km outside Opuwo.
The village has a school, which includes pre-primary to grade 7, and it also has a clinic but no boreholes or taps for running water for the community.
The learner school dropout among the OvaHimba children is also reported to be high because of the poverty levels in the area.
Some of these villagers are forced to endure the heat and long distances of travelling to Opuwo to shop at the local town supermarkets for the convenience of food essentials, access government offices and to acquire healthcare.
Local resident, the 42-year-old Turisaohamba Mukungu expressed unhappiness over the lack of government services and non-existent basic needs such as potable water in their area.
The mother of seven said they see no reason to vote on 25 November.
“We are aware of the elections but we are not excited. We are told that we will be taken to a polling station and to vote for any of the five candidates on the posters we saw,” she reacted when asked about her participation in the elections.
Surprisingly, she claims the community does not benefit from the drought relief programme, despite the persistent drought in the region. But Otjiu Primary School has a feeding programme for the children.
“We the Himbas are suffering because we are uneducated. Whenever we go to the offices to enquire about government social grant benefits, we are often told to leave the offices because we are apparently not educated. We started feeling like we are monkeys who just live in the mountains and should not be seen by the rest of the world,” Mukungu complained. Uaendorure Tjiumbua (33) said they don’t know the point and benefit of voting.
However, she added they will go vote because they were issued with voter cards.
“We don’t know the importance of the regional council elections. We are told to go support the local candidates but we don’t know the candidates. We don’t know who we are going to vote for, it depends who is there with a picture,” she reacted.
Another resident, Zapata Tjiposa, who doesn’t know her real age, also shared the same sentiments, saying she was not excited about the elections.
Tjiposa said she has 10 children under her care but they don’t get any monthly social grants. She said she registered for these grants, but she has never received any money for her children. The community also complained about poor network connection, saying it impacts their lives negatively in times of emergencies.
Another issue the community members raised is the road network which is normally cut off when it rains.