Namibia: Racism Not Welcome At Henties Bay - Mayor

HENTIES Bay mayor Hermann Honeb has denounced racism at his town and says he is convinced that the majority of the town's 10 000 residents are with him on the matter.

He told The Namibian during an interview last week that he has worked hard from the time he took office in 2015 to unite the community, regardless of diverse cultural backgrounds, beliefs, tribes and races.

"We are all part of an independent Namibia and we all have a role to play in developing this town and the country," he said.

His response follows the racial conflict that erupted over social media during the festive season, which involved deputy information and communication technology minister Engel Nawatiseb and certain members of the community.

Nawatiseb was allegedly subjected to racial slurs and accused of corruption because his family was running down the prime property they bought. As a result, Nawatiseb called for police protection against "racist whites" - threatening that "blood will flow" if the matter was not resolved.

He said he was suing resident Paul Smit for fuelling the corruption allegations against him. Smit in turn said Nawatiseb was confusing him with someone else and denied making racial slurs against him. Honeb said that racism would not be tolerated at the town.

"This is all very unfortunate as these were a few elements that have tarnished the name of our good town. These were rotten apples. The majority of people in our town are against racism. There is a lot of cooperation between various cultures and races here. That's what makes us special," Honeb said.

In 2017 Honeb was arrested for alleged stock theft, and with the arrest, his name was "dragged through the mud" even though he said he was innocent.

Two years later, he was cleared of all charges by Swakopmund magistrate Conchita Olivier.

"Now that is of the past, and I hope this racial incident is also something of the past," he said.

The mayor also condemned corruption.

"I do not tolerate corruption. This was always my stance, and I apply it in my life and also within the council. If corruption surfaces, we will deal with it immediately," he said, claiming that since he took office, corruption has been eradicated from within the council and municipality.

Honeb, a Swapo veteran, during his youthful activism for the party before independence, participated in strikes and riots, and burnt down schools and a library in protest against South African governance. He was beaten and arrested, and is now using his passion for his party and people to build up the town.

"That was for a cause. I am not ashamed of it. But now, we live in a liberated Namibia, and instead of burning down, I have contributed to building up our nation through our communities. I am proud of this town, of its diversity and potential. My efforts are to integrate the community so that we can build the town together," he said.

Honeb said he has contributed to the upgrading of his own skills and those of his fellow administrators to enhance the value of service of the town council toward the community.

"Channels between the community and our office have never been so open. The public has complete access to us to make their needs known. This has resulted in better communication and understanding of needs, and so better service delivery," Honeb said.

He said one of Henties Bay's greatest successes has been to continue to grow socio-economically regardless of limited financial resources.

"Investment is happening. There are more businesses, and a lot of residential development. Sure, there are many challenges, especially with regards to affordable housing and employment, but these things are being addressed. It is getting better; not worse."

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