17 May 2018

Namibia: Katima Residents Storm Out of Meeting With Governor

Katima Mulilo — Residents of Katima Mulilo who are unhappy with the manner in which their town is being run by the town council yesterday refused point-blank to come to table with the regional leadership to discuss how to find an amicable solution to their grievances that are mounting.

They staged a peaceful demonstration on Monday to express their dissatisfaction with the council that has become very unpopular and is seen as not pro-poor, aloof and insensitive to their plight as it usually says they should pack up and retreat to their villages whenever they complain.

Residents are accusing town council of being corrupt and its administration of 'stealing' from the poor - this was in reference to the new water metre system being installed at the town.

Residents are not happy that they have to fork out N$2, 500 towards the water metre and they are of the opinion the money will be pocketed by the town council officials, particularly councillors.

During their demonstration on Monday the group gave council 48 hours to respond to their demands or else they would organise another demonstration.

However, the frontrunners of the group walked out of the meeting which was organised by Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu on Tuesday.

Speaking to New Era one of the residents' group leaders Ronald Shangoya pointed out that they walked out of the meeting because the governor did not listen to them.

"We asked the governor before the meeting started that the local councillors and the CEO not be in the meeting, but he didn't listen to us, that's why we decided to walk out," he said.

He added they do not want to come to table with the town council management as all they will do is defend themselves.

"The only person we want to see to explain why we demonstrate is the minister," he added. Shortly after they walked out Sampofu stated that he contacted Urban and Rural Development Minister Peya Mushelenga before he organised the meeting.

"The minister told me that I should sit with these people and listen to their grievances, but as you can see they have walked out," said Sampofu. However, despite the group walking out the meeting continued with various members of the sub-committees from the suburbs in the town.

Katima Mulilo CEO Raphael Liswaniso took the opportunity to defend himself from the accusation laid on him by the community. He stated that everything emanates from the new prepaid metres which are being installed in town. He however argued that the issue is being used as a scapegoat for those with different motives. Liswaniso further alleged that people are not happy with him because they thought he would allow corruption when he took office.

"The demonstration has nothing to do with prepaid metres, because everyone was consulted. There are just some people who are hiding behind the crowd for the fear of the unknown. When I took office I vowed to fight corruption and that is what I am going to do," he said.

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