On January 26, 2018 the High Court ordered the release of all stray animals impounded by the Ondangwa Town Council, and also barred the town council from further impounding stray animals until the council has drafted and implemented policy regulations on impounding strays. New Era’s Desie Heita spoke to the chief executive officer of the town council, Ismael Namgongo, regarding the court decision and on the strategic direction of the town. Desie Heita (DH): Is the town council appealing the decision or would it allow the order to be made final? Ismael Namgongo (IN): The council is mandated by the Act of Parliament, Act 23 of 1992, as amended, to carry out certain functions and duties. Keeping out animals and impounding them is one of the activities that council does to ensure a cleaner and safer environment for residents. The council will never neglect these duties as per our mandate and surely we will appeal against this and continue with our efforts to make Ondangwa a better place to live. We believe that these things are coming up because of the good efforts that we are making and of course our society is full of people who will not rest seeing the progress we are making as a town and as a country. DH: In light of the court order, how would the town council handle stray livestock in the interim? IN: The council is a law-abiding institution and we have to comply with this urgent court application that the Oshana SPCA has made at the High Court. This means that in the interim, while we are appealing, we will not renegade on our duties and the goals of making this town a better place to live in. We will continue with our efforts of keeping this town clean and governable. Council has been impounding the animals and the results were positive over the years. We will be driving the animals away from town. What this interim ruling has done is just to make our task harder and a costly exercise because the animals keep on returning. DH: The argument before the High Court is the maltreatment of impounded animals in the impounding pens. Why is it that the town council is unable to care for the impound animals – to ensure that they have adequate feed and water - until collected by their owners? IN: There is no truth in what is trending at the moment. The allegations against the council are totally unfounded and hence our decision to appeal. We find it odd and regard it as deliberate action to put the council’s name into disrepute rather than an effort to care for the animals. We had meetings with Oshana SPCA representative Wilmarie Horn and some written correspondences on this matter and had reached an amicable understanding on how we can improve and how we can cooperate in this exercise. The latest letter that we received was on 24 January wherein she confirmed what we have discussed and what we need to do, things like a shade and more food were discussed. But to our surprise she went and made an urgent court application on 26 January, just two days after we had a discussion on the way forward and the cooperation between shana SPCA and the council. She volunteered to ask for more food donations as well and this is what is surprising and [we] think that there is more than what she is telling. Council believes that in a way council is protecting these animals from being exposed to dangers and from contamination through eating and drinking from contaminated areas in town, such as sewerage water. It is also interesting to note that Oshana SPCA is basing their allegations of maltreatment of the impounded animals in the pen on their physical appearance. We are talking of stray animals here not animals that are being properly taken care of by the owners. There were three goats that were found dead in our impounding pen, however the cause of their death is not known as no sample was sent out for testing in order to determine the cause of their death. These animals stayed in our kraal for not more than two days and they cannot die of hunger within these days. These animals in most cases are found wasted. They cannot get fat overnight or either become thin overnight. The longest the impounded animals could stay in our impounding pen is three days, and that is during the weekends when the officials are off, but they are also being cared for during that period. For Oshana SPCA to be claiming that they love the animals, they ought to come and join the council in ensuring that these animals are removed from these imminent dangers of freely roaming in town, rather than the action they have taken, for which we think there will no winners. We always believe in dialogue and that was the reason that we had meetings with them and agreed on some points of improvement. Oshana SPCA should come out with the truth behind this and start complimenting the council for what it has done not only for these animals’ safety, but most importantly for the wellbeing and safety of human beings, the residents. DH: Let us talk about the development at the town. What is your strategic vision for this town, on which premise are you working to develop the town? IN: The vision is to become an engine of industrialisation and sustainable development in the region. This is the vision we are all aiming for and we believe we can achieve it given the necessary infrastructure and the will of the people. We have all the necessary transportation modes, railway, air, and road, this is one of the good ingredients for a town to succeed or to transform into a manufacturing town. DH: What programmes has the town council’s executive management put in place to achieve the vision you just articulated? IN: In order for the council to accelerate the much-needed development, we have identified the strategic areas that we should pay attention to. These are infrastructure development and or upgrading, organisational excellency, human resource development, systems improvement and financial stability. All our programmes will be geared towards excelling in the above areas. As a council we will make sure that there is good infrastructure to support our vision of becoming an industrialised town, that land is available for industrial purposes, engagement with our stakeholders in ensuring that all services are available in Ondangwa, and developing the capacities of our people to be able to efficiently respond to the service demands of our people. The other area that we will concentrate on is community engagement – the council is a service-oriented organisation, and it’s important that we involve the community in whatever we are doing. The services that we render to the people should not be the services that we want to, but should be the services that are demanded by the people. DH: What make the programmes you mentioned important to the residents of the town? IN: The development of a town is not entirely on the shoulders of the town council. The council is there to ensure that the environment is conducive for business to thrive. It is therefore very important that whatever council is doing, it is doing it with the blessing and involvement of the residents and most importantly the investors and business community. With that in mind, the programmes I mentioned above are all geared towards equipping and positioning this institution in a good position to create a conducive business environment. We believe that when we perfect these programmes above, the spin-offs and benefits will be more investments and more industries coming in and more opportunities for the residents – either setting up service businesses or opportunities or getting employed in the private sector. DH: What unique challenges are you faced with and how is the town council management working to ensure that it delivers on its promises to residents? IN: This is a time when the land demand is high and the pressure on local authorities to deliver is higher than ever. Trading spaces are needed to accommodate our micro and small traders in our dedicated markets but there is a lack of adequate resources to implement all of our plans as a council. Actions that we are taking to address the challenges [are that] we have managed to instil a sense of belonging and ownership among residents. This is the right step because residents now feel that it is not [only] the town council that should bring about development but it is [also] residents. All our contributions matter and now we have our residents as our ambassadors and marketing team for their own town. Ondangwa is fast becoming their sense of pride. The council is engaging the private sector to join hands with the council in availing funds for land servicing and once the private businesses are on board, the limited funding that council generates on its own can be used to improve other infrastructure such as street lighting, tarring of roads and extending the same services to our informal areas with the aim of formalising them. DH: Lastly, can we have a brief introduction of who is the CEO? IN: I was born and raised in Oshigambo, a village that hosts the famous Oshigambo High School which is just about 20km away from Ondangwa. I never left this village until the year I went to university. I studied economics at the university as my first degree and also I studied business administration at masters level. I first started working at the age of 21 years as the first economic development planner at the Oshana Regional Council before I joined Ondangwa Town Council as the first local economic development planner, from 2003 to 2008. I was also the first person to hold the position of deputy director for rural development at Oshikoto Regional Council for eight years, from 2008 to 2015.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-02 10:47:50 9 months ago