If the City of Windhoek was as quick to disconnect the utilities of government offices and agencies like it does with home owners and private businesses, it would not have found itself in the financial mess it is in today.
Windhoek residents have decried the municipality’s ruthless attitude when it comes to disconnecting water and electricity provision when homeowners default on their municipal bills, therefore, in most cases home owners make provisions to keep their accounts within the set parameters.
The same does not apply to government however, with public institutions owing the municipality millions in unpaid bills for municipal services rendered. There are even talks that the municipality hides its lacklustre debt collection from government by punishing home owners. This is unfair to home owners.
The constant rising cost of municipal services is clearly a direct result of the high debts incurred by the State. The situation is expected to get worse now that government finds itself in a position where it cannot settle its bills on all fronts.
Management of resources
Not only that, it is also evident that the manner in which the City is managed is not sustainable.
Last year the municipality found itself in a cache-22 situation after it emerged that the municipality is not commercially viable and it is sitting without an immediate plan to address its current financial puzzle, the National Council’s committee on Public Accounts and Economy (PAC) said at the time.
The analysis by the committee is informed by audit reports of the City of Windhoek (Windhoek Municipality) for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 that were compiled by Auditor General, Junias Kandjeke.
In the successive audit reports, CoW got a qualified audit opinion from Kandjeke.
According to the committee, it is clear that the CoW is not commercially viable and there are growing concerns of material uncertainty in the City’s ability to continue operating.
Chief among other concerns for the committee is fraud, irregular tender awarding process; irregular sale of property and cases that are reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission that drag on for years.
The municipality has since earmarked the sale of land as one of its key revenue drives, a move that has resulted in the cost of land being inexplicably high for ordinary city residents.
The municipal police has been welcomed by the public since its establishment, in fact, it is undisputed that its presence has brought crime under some degree of control in Windhoek.
The problem however is the way it spends its resources. City Police is a mere department in the municipality but it operates like an entity on its own.
CoW’s leadership seemingly has no control over City Police, one wonders how the policing unit accounts for the funds allocated to it. There are talks that City Police chief Abraham Kanime calls the shots and decides at will without any consultation whatsoever how City Police will function and implements.
City Police is essential for safety in the Windhoek, but Chief Kanime must be reminded that the resources utilised by his forces comes from the pockets of the Windhoek residents and they must be accounted for.
City Police cannot be allowed to continue operating as a law unto itself, it is high time the municipality’s CEO Robert Kahimise does what he gets paid for: overseeing his executives and making sure that they operate within the confines of their mandates.
It was recently reported that Kanime ran to the courts accusing Kahimise and the City Council of impeding him from doing his job, of course it sounds more like he wants to do things as he pleases. He must be kept in checked like the rest of the executives because City Police is just as important as the other departments.
We expect the City of Windhoek to initiate smart revenue generation tactics, not necessarily premised on increasing the cost of utilities and selling land at artificial prices. The management of the institution should improve because residents want value for their money.
Lastly, City Police must be supported fully to continue safeguarding the City and the department must be fully accountable to the leadership of the municipality.