Residents of Opuwo will have to wait at least until March to get a glimpse of the possible candidates expected to take charge of the coveted position of chief executive officer (CEO) at the north-western town.
Speaking during an interview with this paper, Mayor Albert Tjiuma said shortlisting for the Opuwo Town Council CEO’s position will only take place in March this year.
“The position was advertised late last year and people have applied and by March we will have the shortlisting of candidates,” said Tjiuma.
After the shortlisting process, successful candidates will then be called in for interviewing, which will determine the most suitable individual for the position by the end of March 2017, the mayor said.
“We are eager to appoint a CEO as soon as possible and we received a great number of applications for the post,” added Tjiuma.
Tjiuma could, however, not disclose the names and number of applicants for the highly politicised position.
Moreover, Opuwo has been without a CEO for the past three months since the departure of Alphons Tjitombo in October last year. Prior to his departure, Tjitombo had served as CEO of the town for a decade.
Tjitombo was often accused of being unreachable whenever the community members knocked on his door to lodge their complaints and was also linked to a number of dubious dealings while at the helm of the town.
Despite all the allegations mounted against him, Tjitombo is eligible for selection as the next CEO of Opuwo and could see his time as CEO extended to 15 years.
Tjiuma further said that the Opuwo Town Council (OTC) is committed to one day becoming a fully-fledged organisation with all managerial positions filled despite the current financially challenging times.
“Having a single speaker (CEO) from the town council in council meetings is very challenging so we need managers of different departments,” lamented Tjiuma.
The positions usually blamed for the snail-paced development of Opuwo include the town planner, financial manager, public relations officer, technical manager, building inspector, environmental health inspector and a personal assistant to the CEO, which are yet to be filled.
“We are hoping to advertise at least two managerial positions by the end of the year,” he added.
The town council is facing challenges as some traditional authorities and chiefs allocate land that is proclaimed as part of Opuwo and therefore under the council’s jurisdiction.
According to those in the know, Otjindjerese Traditional Authority, which borders Opuwo to the east and south, continues “dishing” out land in Opuwo as it pleases.
Tjiuma says the actions by the abovementioned traditional authority will bring the town into disrepute.
“The issue of plot distribution by some traditional authorities in Opuwo has gone on for some time now and really needs to be addressed,” noted Tjiuma.
Tjiuma said the town council was setting up a meeting with the relevant stakeholders before the issue gets out of hand.
“We want to meet the traditional authorities, chiefs, the constituency councillor and the governor to address this issue, which is creating serious problems,” complained Tjiuma.
On the other hand, the past OTC has come under heavy criticism over alleged unfair land distribution and corrupt dealings involving politically well-connected figures and business persons at the town.
Those accused of benefitting from dubious land deals that included elements of corruption and nepotism include Kunene Regional Governor Angelika Muharukua who owns multiple plots at the town and northern businessman Erastus “Chicco” Shapumba who bought the Newman Katuta Stadium for N$2.4million.
As a consequence, councillors at the town have been engaging community members to address the issue, according to Tjiuma.
Housing, cleanliness and roads
As part of their commitment to keeping the town of Opuwo clean, OTC this week gave 200 plastic dust bins to residents of the Otuzemba and Ouranda settlement areas.
“One of our main focus [areas] this year is to clean the town and that will include the total removal of animals in Opuwo,” said Tjiuma.
OTC will further dedicate its resources towards the provision of housing and allocation of residential plots to the residents of the town.