THE series of Regional Assessment Missions (RAMs) and Town-Hall Meetings is about accountability and building trust and has nothing to do with campaigning.
President Hage Geingob tells Mariental meeting held the third Town Hall Meeting on 16 July 2019 at Mariental in the Hardap Region. The meeting followed an assessment mission and visit in the Stampriet Settlement where the President toured an agricultural village.
“Inclusivity spells harmony, exclusivity – when you leave people out, that spells wars. This is not a campaign – it is about accountability. To say that I am here on your behalf,” Dr. Geingob told the participants at the Mariental meeting.
The President was accompanied by the Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba, Prime Minister Saraa Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations Netumbo Nandi- Ndaitwa.
On the mission to Hardap, the President said, “We are reporting back on what we heard when we were here in 2015.”
Placing further importance on accountability and dialogue, Dr. Geingob said when dialogues don’t exist people fight each other, and when diplomacy fails people go to war.
“We discuss our problems. We are not fighting.”
As is the tradition for the town-hall meetings, the floor was opened to the public to air issues of concern and pose questions to the President.
Issues and concerns raised in a positive and constructive mood included, recognition for veteran status, the N$1 250 social grant for pensioners not being enough, allocation of jobs, elders owing the municipality as much as N$10 000 and asking for debt-write offs.
Participants also asked the President and the executive to address the issue of transport from the clinics and state hospitals.
The President agreed that the amount is small, but that it is a grant afforded to the elderly and the reason why they are not coping with it is because they have to take care of their children’s children.
The President also said he is aware of the elders being robbed when they collect their pension and government is therefore exploring an electronic payment system for the pensioners.
Submitting that they wished to have access to government funds, youth representatives, thanked Government in assisting with the establishment of the Youth Enterprises in the Hardap region.
Government informed that the youth in the Hardap region has been given access to government funds through the Credit Guarantee Scheme, which has been giving grants for the past five years. A total of 297 businesses have been created from this grant and this has resulted in 457 employment created.
On behalf of the farmers, the main concerns that were raised were that of the payment of tax returns to the farmers and poor road infrastructure close to their farms.
Government responded that the Ministry of Finance processes applications for tax returns twice a week and that the farmers should follow up on their applications.
Presidential Advisor on Constitutional Affairs and Private Sector Interface, Inge Zamwani-Kamwi provided a progress report on the issues that were raised during the last town hall meeting held in Mariental on 9 October 2015. She pointed out that seven issues arose which included the need for a Youth Multipurpose Centre in Maltahohe.
To this, Zamwani-Kamwi said that a number of buildings have been identified and are being rehabilitated for this purpose.
Another issue that arose from that meeting, the advisor said, is a request by the women the preference to be given to women and especially single mother’s in the granting of fishing quotas. This request the advisor said was honoured as a special category for women and the youth is provided for when applying for the quotas.
The issue of the affordability of mass housing was also listed as one of the seven key issues in the last Town Hall Meeting and the government responded to this with social housing being subsidised at 60% and the normal houses sold at market value.
Residents of the Hardap Region, in 2015, also asked for better health care and Zaamwani-Kamwi said that the upgrading of the Mariental State Hospital has been budgeted for.
With regard to Drought Relief, Prime Minister Saraa Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told the gathering that the drought concerns that were raised during the 2015 meeting has been responded to in various manners as part of the ongoing drought relief programme. The Prime Minister informed that the programme is designed in such a way to target those whose harvest and income had been affected by drought. Governments response to the draught devastation is to give food rations which consists of maize meal/mahangu, cooking oil and tinned fish.
Government is assisting in upgrading water infrastructure by rehabilitating boreholes that are not functional and subsidizes farmers who lease grazing as well as subsidizing farmers with the purchasing of fodder. “We for example have received 84 claims for fodder and all 84 claims have been processed. Rations for the month of June and July have already been received,” the Prime Minister said, adding that 230 bales of lucern has been given to the Hardap Region and more bales were expected to be delivered this week. Government was also in the process of rehabilitating the abattoir in Mariental and urged farmers to make use of the incentives when it comes to the sale of animals.
Participants expressed appreciation for the social protection system of the Government and accessibility of health services. A participant thanked the government for including the youth in decision making over land resettlement by accommodating them on regional resettlement committees.
In closing, the President informed participants that Government would look into the issues raised, and expressed appreciation to the residents of the Hardap Region for the respectful manner in which they engaged in the Town Hall Meeting.
President Geingob proceeds to the /Karas Region for that leg of the assessment mission and Town-Hall Meeting today.