13 February 2013

Namibia: Commission Starts Delimitation Consultations

Windhoek — Kavango Regional Governor, Maurus Nekaro, says there are two burning questions that the region's inhabitants will submit to the delimitation commission.

The fourth Delimitation Commission appointed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, started with its first consultative public meetings, yesterday at Rundu, in the Kavango region. Nekaro said one of the submissions is the possible division of the Kavango Region into two regions, as well as the creation of additional constituencies.

"The region is too vast and is lagging behind in terms of development. If cut in two it will be easily manageable," the governor offered. However, he admitted that it would be difficult to say which constituencies would be affected, as yet.

"We want to bring government closer to the people. We are very much aware of the financial implications, but we are weighing that against the benefits that the inhabitants will derive from that exercise. The benefits would be more," Nekaro said of the planned delimitation exercise. Caprivi governor, Laurence Sampofu, has not received formal or specific submissions, but indicated that the inhabitants of the Caprivi Region are often heard complaining over the Silozi language service of the NBC about the Caprivi/Kavango boundary that was shifted about eleven years ago.

According to Sampofu, since the Kavango/Caprivi boundary was shifted from Divundu to Chetto, in 2002, people have been complaining. "So maybe they might submit that to the commission," the governor said. Sampofu was unable to offer any explanation as to why the boundary was shifted more than 100 km into the Caprivi Region in the first place, but said even the traditional leaders in the region were not consulted when the decision was taken and carried out.

Sampofu is now waiting to hear from the regional councilors, whether there is a need to make changes to the existing boundaries of their constituencies. "As a regional council, we have to resubmit one report, but we should do that before the 20th of February," he said.

Governor of the Oshana Region, Clemence Kashuupulwa, said the region is facing a few unique challenges since the last delimitation commission. One of the challenges he highlighted is the Ombundja constituency centre, which is located in the Oshakati East constituency, while it is supposed to be serving people in the Ombundja constituency.

"So that is confusing for the people," he said. Another possible submission he said could include the possible division of the Ondangwa East constituency into three constituencies by adding two more, because it has a very large population. For example an Ondangwa Rural constituency could be created, he said.

"Okaku constituency is also large and needs to be divided into two constituencies and that will bring the current 10 constituencies to 12 in Oshana, which is in line with our constitution," Kashuupulwa noted. Also, one part of Ondangwa called Onethindi is now located in the Oshikoto Region, since the last delimitation commission, according to the governor.

"There is nothing wrong with that, but Onethindi should just remain under Oshikoto and should be developed by Oshikoto. Our stand is that it remains there," he added. Besides the official regional submissions, Kashuupulwa said, the public could submit its own submissions. However, he made it clear that they are not in favour of a metropolitan area for the three towns of Ondangwa, Oshakati and Ongwediva, which could be a possible submission from the public.

"The three towns should remain as such, since it is good for competition between them. Competition makes towns develop faster. I know many have already suggested a metropolitan area, but maybe it should be left as it is for now, because who knows, it may become a metropolitan area automatically, by the year 2030," said Kashuupulwa.

The Oshikoto Region's Penda ya Ndakolo said he had invited all regional representatives to put ideas together before the commission visits the region. "But what I heard is that people want an additional constituency in the areas of Okakolo, Omuthiya, Guinas and Eengodi. Maybe we will take a part from each of those constituencies to create an additional constituency."

According to Governor Ya Ndakolo, the region is vast and is characterized by huge distances in between. He said it is not uncommon for one to drive for more than 200 km in one constituency, especially on very poor roads. The governors of the rest of the regions in the country could not be reached before going to print.

The Delimitation Commission is an independent and impartial institution constituted for the purpose of recommending changes to regional boundaries, creating new regions, or dividing regions into constituencies.

It is supposed to consider factors such as the number of eligible voters in a region, geographical features, infrastructure, resources and means of communication, its socio-economic characteristics and circumstances, the boundaries of districts and the areas of local authorities and settlement areas.

The commission will visit all thirteen regions and interested parties are allowed to make oral or written submissions, which may be handed or e-mailed to the commission. The public, traditional authorities, registered political parties, councilors and all registered persons are welcome to attend the meetings of the commission.

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