John Muyamba and Marythar Kambinda
KATIMA MULILO - The Namibia Association of Local Authorities Offices 19th annual conference and annual general meeting (AGM) underway in Katima Mulilo is prioritising advocacy to speed up the implementation of local government reform.
The conference, which started on 26 May and ends today, is being held under the theme ‘The Urgency of Local Government’. According to Nalao’s acting president Frieda Shimakeleni, the implementation of proposed local government reform is in the context of increased urbanisation challenges and informal settlement proliferation that requires local authorities to reposition themselves for an urban future.
In July 2013, the then ministry of regional and local government, housing and rural development, now ministry of urban and rural development, released the ‘Proposed Local Authorities Reform Policy’, which contained reform ideas and recommendations for local government that aimed at deliveringlong-lasting
benefits for communities as well as improve governance and service delivery in local authorities.
“However, more than seven years after this, the proposed reform policy still remains in its starting blocks, despite numerous amendments to the local authorities’ act, which did not consider any of the reform proposals,” said Shimakeleni.
She noted that as governments of proximity, local authorities are the first points of contact with communities, and play a vital role in supporting local businesses and communities during times of
challenges and adversity.
“In November, Namibia also held fresh local and regional government elections. It is thus a time filled with possibility and risks that should inspire a
renewed sense of commitment to develop the
Namibia we want collectively. It is an opportunity to maximise the gains of local democracy as the basis for mobilising everyone towards the vision of shared prosperity in Namibia,” she continued.
Deputy minister of urban and rural development Natalia /Goagoses said service delivery was crucial for her ministry.
“We support initiatives of this kind, and above all your quest to enhance the effectiveness of local government and make it more agile and responsive to the developmental and knowledge-based challenges
of the day,” she stated.
/Goagoses said with over half of Namibia’s population now living in urban areas, the burden of providing basic services for the ever-increasing urban population and ensuring sustainable and “resilient cities” as per the New Urban Agenda is directly on the shoulders of local authorities and local authority practitioners.
“These obligations and expectations, together with the new challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, demand from governments in general and local governments in particular to sharpen their skills and up their game and delivery capacities for them to remain relevant, and above all to be effective transmission belts of public goods and services to the populace,”
“Local authority councillors and officials must act
and work together as one team with a shared responsibility, which is to serve the residents or the public. It is disheartening to hear that some of the mayors and chief executive officers are not on talking terms. We are servant leaders, we are not there to be served, but to give service to the people, and we can only do that if we work together”, she stressed.