Andrew Kathindi

The Windhoek Observer can reveal that government is in arrears of over N$82 million to the City of Windhoek (CoW), a position which saw electricity disconnected at more than eight government ministries and agencies on Thursday.

Government’s woes are, however, expected to mount as CoW has vowed to continue with disconnection at other ministries next week.

“The total debt owned by Government is N$ 82 million to date, although the suspension of electricity services was scheduled to start yesterday (Wednesday), it has only commenced today and will continue next week,” City spokesperson Harold Akwenye said.

On the individual ministries and agencies’ exact debt, Akwenye said, “Unfortunately, we cannot divulge in details the exact amount owed by each institution.”

On whether CoW will accept payment plans to settle the debts, he said, “the City has further stressed that no extension or arrangement will be accepted.”

The ministries whose electricity was cut on Thursday are the Ministry of Safety and Security, including the Namibian Police, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Lands & Resettlement including the Namibia Meteorological Service, Ministry of Youth including – Independence Stadium and Namibia Rugby Union who owe a total of N$47 million.

“The Namibian Police, however, has insisted that they have made a request for payment through the finance Ministry, and therefore its electricity has been restored while the City verifies this.”

Akwenye revealed that the N$82 million is part of a larger one billion owed to the City by its clients.

“The City of Windhoek, as part of its Credit Control Policy, disconnects services of all accounts that are in arrears over a period of 30 days. The City’s debtor’s book currently stands at a billion dollars and for the past months, we have been struggling to collect money owed to us by some of our clients.”

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is still amongst us, we are currently only disconnecting the electricity supply to all the accounts in arrears.”

According to Akwenye, the disconnection of electricity services is only targeting those whose accounts are in arrears and not honouring the payment arrangements in place.

“We therefore urge all our clients to pay their monthly municipal bills, to enable the City of Windhoek to continue providing uninterrupted municipal services to all.”

Spokesperson of the Land Reform ministry, Chrispin Matongela, told Windhoek Observer that two of the ministry’s offices, including the headquarters at government park, are without electricity and that this has affected operations.

“Definitely it affects operations. We transfer property on a daily basis, plus a lot of transactions that happen at the deeds office,” said Matongela.

He said one of the ministry’s office buildings in the government park is currently running on a generator.

He revealed that the ministry owes N$3 million but downplayed the seriousness of the matter stating it was just an oversight from staff.

“We just have to pay. We owe N$3 million. It will be done soonest. I think it was just staff members who were sleeping on duty in terms of making payments. We shouldn’t have such a problem.”