The Namibian Constitution Third Amendment Act 8 of 2014 makes provision for article 110 (a) regional governors, which states that (1) the President shall appoint regional governors as political heads of the regions, and an Act of Parliament shall further prescribe their powers and functions.
While regional governors shall serve at the pleasure of the President, they are subjected to the constitution or any other law, and a regional governor shall oversee the exercise of any executive function of government in the region for which he or she is the regional governor, and he or she shall be the link between the central government and the regional council, local authorities and traditional leaders in the region concerned.
Albeit the aforementioned provisions, we have all heard of Albert Einstein’s famous line: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity”. It turns out to be the case as far as Oshikoto political leadership is concerned, and the regional governor, in particular. The Hon. Jafet Penda Ya Ndakolo previously served as a Swapo district coordinator before he got elected as regional councillor for Omuthiya constituency in Oshikoto region, and eventually being elevated as the region’s governor since 2004.
He then went to serve as minister of defence from 2015 to 2020. After losing his position as minister in 2020, he was appointed to his old position as governor again – a culture and precedence set for the region to always find comfort in rotating and retaining the same leaders over and over and expecting the different results.
On the 23rd June 2021, the Hon. Penda Ya Ndakolo, regional governor of Oshikoto region delivered the state of the region address, a meeting provided for in the constitution that the regional governor shall address the regional council on the state of the region, planned activities of the central government in the region, report on the activities of the central government of the previous year in the region and be available to respond to questions. In his speech, the governor alluded that his address would account on the implementation status of the regional developmental programmes against the five thematic pillars, which are: economic advancement, infrastructural development, human capital development, social progression, highlighting the main challenges confronting the region and propose the way forward. However, to our dismay, the address was not holistic, neither was it comprehensive enough to outline and highlight the regional developmental agenda.
As a region with 11 constituencies and three town councils with a very high unemployment rate, on the aspect of employment creation, the governor’s address highlighted the Youth Enterprise in Omuthiya Constituency, employing eight (8) local youth under the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Services, Directorate of Youth Development.
On industrialisation, the governor announced, as part of the regional economic advancement pillar, the registration of a total of 78 close corporations, 42 sole traders, 21 companies that were amended and 120 names that were reserved by the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development. On Infrastructure Development, he reported that N$586 235 used for road maintenance at Onayena settlement, under the Oshikoto Region Council, as one of the key infrastructural project in the region.
In terms of the projects and progress made by local authorities in the region, despite the region being faced with a lack of road infrastructure, the regional Capital, Omuthiya Town Council, reported on the construction and upgrade of gravel roads as a major achievement. In the Oniipa Town Council, a 2-kilometre gravel road maintenance at a cost of N$917 100 was achieved, while at the Tsumeb municipality, as the regional economic hub, the major capital project was the upgrade of Tsumeb Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase 2 at a total cost of N$2 343 361.
Oshikoto remains one of the poorest rural regions in the country; more than a third of the inhabitants are poor – a lot has to be done, as it relates to the socio-economic agenda; however, on social progression, the achievements reported is that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration registered 5 854 births, issued 2 707 birth certificate duplicates, 5 791 ID cards were printed – and regrettably, 1 537 death were registered, and the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs – Department of Veteran Affairs has conducted home visits to veterans houses – something very disappointing.
Further, despite the region not having a public Tvet or university, the address on the aspect of education regrettably reported that only a total of 1 220 learners dropped out of school, which is 1.61% of the leaners enrolled. 442 fell pregnant. On higher education, they reported a total of 3 028 learners enrolled for grade 12 in 2020, of which only 727 (24.01%) qualified for tertiary education, 386 at University of Namibia, 153 at Namibia University of Science and Technology and 188 at International University of Management, respectively, as an achievement.
The region’s development budget for Oshikoto in 2021/2022 is allocated a total amount of N$243 185 000 availed for implementation of projects and programmes – and in their effort to stimulate economic growth and development in the region. Collectively, the region leadership recommends that mothers are encouraged to give birth at the hospitals and register their children’s birth as soon as it occurred. The region is also appealing the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security to set up mobile registration points of national documents at far rural areas. The region is highly recommending for the local authorities to avail land at an affordable price to Namibian Police for the construction of houses.
This is a sad state of affairs has exposed the inability, cluelessness of our political leaders and demonstrate a visionless as well as weak political leadership as far as development is concerned. Their failure exhibit lack of political will and vision from the leadership entrusted with a huge responsibility of transforming the material condition of the inhabitants. Our failure, as inhabitants of the region, to properly acknowledge and confront the psychological, economic, social and political effects of this weak and visionless leadership has perpetuated poverty, inequality and class-based political resentments in the region.
We must then be reminded by Jim Wallis that “The failure of political leaders to help uplift the poor will be judged a moral failure”. Therefore, residents of Oshikoto must learn from this historic failure under the leadership of Hon. Penda Ya Ndakolo, given his historic incidence of staying in a luxurious hotel at the state’s expense for over six months and incurred a bill estimated at close to N$1 million, which he was forced to pay back. This might not be fatal but failure to change might be. We must all be concerned. Vladimir Lenin would ask a penetrating question: What is to be done?
*Simon Kanepolo Amunime is a resident of Onankali Village in Oshikoto region and is a spokesperson of the Affirmative Repositioning movement.