Nearing the end of his first year in office as as the Chief Regional Officer (CRO) of Khomas, Clement Mafwila, sat down with Prime Focus journalist, Rosalia David, to discuss the growth and challenges being experienced in the country’s urban and industrial capital.
Prime Focus: Could you outline the role and purpose of the Khomas Regional Council?
Our mandate includes governing, planning and implementing socio economic development activities. We are also tasked with ensuring environmental protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources. We make recommendations to the Ministry of Finance in relation to preparation of estimates of revenue and expenditure in the region.
Prime Focus: With regards to industrialization and urbanization, has the region secured its place as the country’s leader in both categories?
Yes, in terms of urbanization we are the leading the pack as all our nine out of 10 constituencies are located in the municipal boundaries. In terms of industrialization, Windhoek is the major national manufacturings centre and hosts several industries that add value to agricultural produce. These include abattoir and meat processing, hide processing and leather manufacturing. These industries have major growth potential for the export market. The infrastructure of Khomas is well developed but it does not extend equally to all parts of the region. The potential for further development of light industries and new settlement areas seem presently to be unlimited. Khomas Region also has a strong and well developed tourism sector with good accommodation facilities and tourism attractions.
Prime Focus: Could you give us some background on your career and the road that lead you to the appointment as the Khomas Regional Officer?
My career has a humble beginning with Ministry of Defence in the early 90s in which I served in various positions until I was promoted to a rank of Deputy Commissioner: Finance in the Namibian Police Force. In December 2003 I become a Director of Finance, Human Resources and Administration and also the caretaker of Directorate of Planning and Development at Khomas Regional Council. In total, I worked for the Regional Council for 11 years in which I also served as Acting Chief Regional Officer for two years before I was appointed as Chief Regional Officer of the Regional Council in January 2015.
Prime Focus: What are some of the challenges currently facing the Khomas Regional Council and what resources have been availed to help the council deal with them?
The regional Council faces many challenges in the areas of education, health, land delivery and the provision of basic services to name just a few.
In terms of education, the region is facing many challenges such as the lack of classrooms, unavailability of land to construct new schools, lack of space for Grade 1 and 8, maintenance of existing school facilities and the existence of tent schools in the region.
In terms of Health, we are facing a challenge in the unavailability of land to construct new health facilities, illegal occupation of earmarked land for constructing new hospitals and shortage of specialized skills in the health sector.
As far as land is concerned, we are facing a challenge of lack of funds to service land, the scarcity of habitable land, illegal occupation of municipal land and outdated legislations on land.
Urbanisation has also become a big issue for Khomas Region whereby people come to the city seeking better opportunities. This problem is not only hampering our development plans for the region but it is also affecting service delivering such access to clean water and sanitation and the placement of learners in our region.
Another challenge is crime and violence against women and children. We have seen an increase in cases of violence against women whereby women are beaten and in worse cases killed by their lovers.
Prime Focus: With regards to the resolution of servicing land to curb the housing crisis in the country, what role will the Khomas Regional Council play in this regard?
We are coordinating with the City of Windhoek to find effective ways to deliver affordable land to the residents of this region. The housing crisis has become a countrywide problem and government tiers at all levels are uniting to find a solution to that crisis.
Prime Focus: Aside from dealing with the issue of housing, what other priorities does the Khomas Regional Council currently have?
We have health, education and delivering services to Windhoek rural constituency. Although challenges remain, we have achieved tremendous successes in these areas. For example over the past two years we have managed to construct 57 classrooms in order to meet the ever increasing demand for classrooms in the region, especially for Grade 1 and 8.
The new classrooms were constructed at several schools including the Moses Garoeb Project School, Faith Primary School and Goregab JS, to mention just a few. New schools are also under construction, including the Otjomuise Primary School, Otjomuise Secondary vision School, which is funded by the Chinese government, Havana Primary School, Havana Secondary School and Mix Primary School in the Mix Settlement area. Two libraries were also constructed at Green Well Matongo and Nethanael Maxwilili Centre to cater for the communities in those areas.
In terms of health, we have just purchased land to construct the Maxwilili clinic in Tobias Hainyeko Constituency, which will provide healthcare to the people of our region. This clinic is a joint venture between the Khomas Regional Council and the Ministry of Health.
Prime Focus: What are the Regional Council’s plans for Khomas rural (Areas like Groot Aub etc.) since the focus has largely been on the development of Khomas Urban?
Khomas Regional Council is implementing on-going capital projects at Groot Aub, such as the upgrading of sewer network at Groot Aub, which is now in Phase 6. We have also implemented different projects in Windhoek Rural Constituency aimed at improving self sustainability of the communities. These projects are: the distributed goats to needy community members in Windhoek Rural Constituency for them to venture into farming.
The micro finance project: The project is aimed at supporting aspiring SMEs to grow and expand their businesses so that they can generate an income. Cash/Food: The project which benefits rural poor communities in Windhoek Rural Constituency provides food and cash for work done.
Drought relief programme: The distribution of drought relief food is currently underway in Windhoek rural constituency, which is aimed at making sure that no one dies of hunger during this drought season.
Prime Focus: What are your, and at large the council’s, plans to deal with the issue of decentralisation where it can limit the number of people coming in annually so as to plan properly for the number of people that currently reside in the region?
We call on central government to decentralize most functions to the regional councils countrywide in order to bring services closer to the people. Also for decentralization efforts to continue succeeding, it should involve a high degree of coordination and cooperation among various ministries, offices and agencies and other stakeholders. We plan to continue advocating for coordination and corporation amongst various stakeholders in order to fast-track the decentralization process in the country.
Prime Focus: What are some of the challenges you have encountered during your tenure as CRO?
I am only 10 months in the office so far and I am happy with the progress we have made so far as a Regional Council. To look at some of the challenges encountered so far is the gap between the rich and poor in the region. Some constituencies in the region have wealthy people while others have the poorer people.
Decentralization is also moving at a slow pace in Khomas Region compared to others because most Government Ministries, Offices and Agencies are based here, which means they do not see the need to have a regional office for Khomas. The issue of Monitoring and Evaluation in the public sector is another challenge, especially when it comes to the implementation of Strategic and Annual Plans.
Prime Focus: Where finances are concerned, is the regional council well-resourced to address the mandate outlined in Question 1?
We receive a subsidy from central government but these funds are not adequate to successfully tackle the problems facing the region and to fulfil the mandates as outlined in question 1.
However, it should be noted that the central government has many priority areas that need urgent intervention and that resources need to be shared with other regions in the country. It is for this reason that we are doing the best we can with the little resource we have. We are hopeful for the future and we are confident that things can only get better.