Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda posted on social media yesterday that ministry staff should ask their bosses to pay the City of Windhoek their debts of millions so they could be reunited with their lunch boxes.
This was after a government ministry employee had posted that his lunch box, wallet and car keys were locked in his office and that access cards were not working, after the City of Windhoek switched off the electricity yesterday.
"My apologies. Please speak to your bosses to pay the city so that we can reunite you with your lunch box!" he tweeted.
This happened as news spread like wildfire that several ministries' and state agencies' electricity supplies were scheduled to be cut.
Amupanda continued: "Some have moved with speed and are paying the millions owed to the rebirthed city. Our resolve remains: Leaders must set good examples. We must not promote late-coming in Windhoek. God bless Windhoek, our city!"
The scheduled suspensions would have kicked off on Wednesday, but instead commenced yesterday with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform being the first to bear the brunt.
Five ministries owe the city N$47 million in total, but the government owes a total of N$82 million.
Other ministries targeted are the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, as well as the Ministry of Defence.
Under the safety and security ministry, the Namibian Police headquarters are targeted.
Under the agriculture ministry, the Namibia Meteorological Services' electricity supply will be affected, and under the youth ministry the bulk of the debt was run up by the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) and Independence Stadium.
City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenye could not divulge information on the amounts the ministries owe, or on which other ministries are targeted over their debts of around N$40 million.
He said the targeted ministries have been owing the city millions for a period of over 60 days.
"The total debt owned by the government is N$82 million to date. Although the suspension of electricity services was scheduled to start yesterday it has only commenced today, and will continue next week. Unfortunately, we cannot divulge in detail the exact amount owed by each institution," Akwenye said.
He said the City of Windhoek hopes to collect all the money it is owed through the disconnection of services.
". . . and no extension or arrangement will be accepted," he said.
Chrispin Matongela, spokesperson of the land reform ministry, confirmed that their electricity supply has been cut, but said the relevant department was addressing the matter.
He said the ministry owes the city roughly N$3 million.
"The services were disconnected at the Deeds Office and the ministry's headquarters, but we are addressing it," Matongela said.
Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo also confirmed that his ministry owes the city money, saying the city's plan to suspend services due to unpaid debts is in motion.
"However, I don't know the exact amount owed. It's right that we all, including government ministries, pay for services rendered. I just hope that the city is equally committed to pay for the services rendered to it by the likes of NamPower and NamWater," the minister said.
Mines and energy spokesperson Andreas Simon said the ministry, through relevant departments was addressing the issue.
Meanwhile, Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) interim chief executive officer Theo Grünewald said he is not aware off any outstanding bill and maintains that the electricity is on.
Namibian Police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi said the city made an administrative error with the amount the police allegedly owe. Shikwambi said their invoices are up to date.
"Our team is verifying our account to see the authenticity of the payment. While doing so, we will reconnect their services," Akwenye said.
The executive director in the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Services, Audrin Mathe, said their electricity was not cut off. He, however, could not say whether the Independence Stadium and the NRU have outstanding bills with the city.
Odillo Kgobetsi, the chief forecaster at the Namibia Meteorological Services, also denied that their electricity supply has been discontinued.