Is Windhoek officially a dysfunctional city?

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The City of Windhoek(CoW) Council has yet again failed to elect two additional members to the Management Committee, at a special meeting that was scheduled to take place this evening.

The meeting has since been postponed to 2 March 2023, a day before the deadline set by Minister of Rural and Urban Development, Erastus Uutoni.

The city has been labeled dysfunctional due to internal disputes, ranging from the City’s three-year absence of a substantive Chief Executive Officer and disagreements between Council members.

Since the resignation of Robert Kahimise as Chief Executive officer at the end of October 2020, the City has been without a permanent CEO.

In addition to the absence of a CEO, the city has also not been able to elect a full Management Committee for over two months. This is because of the absence of Councilors in the chambers. Uutoni has however given the CoW Councilors until 3 March, to fill the positions. Harold Akwenye, the City Spokesperson however confirmed the special meeting to fill the two vacancies. This was the fourth attempt for Council to vote and fill the positions

Akweenye added that despite the absence of a CEO giving the city a bad image, acting CEO, Faniel Maanda, has been carrying out the strategic objectives of the city.

“Surely it does give a bad image, However, the technocrats under the leadership of acting CEO Maanda is working together to steer the ship and to make sure the already approved items are executed and the strategic objectives of the institution are carried out with the current budget allocated,” Akwenye said.

Maanda was appointed acting CEO last year December after Jennifer Comalie who’s currently in the Executive Management of the City. Maanda’s term ends in March..

Akweenye added that it has been a while since he has seen the city’s management working in synergy.

Public Policy Analyst Marius Kudumo shared the same sentiments and added that the absence of senior management affects the city’s operations.

“The CEO of a big city like the City of Windhoek oversees various departments to know that they have strategic executives which are of high-level positions. He or she is responsible for the implementation of Council resolutions. Acting persons do not have all the authority and are not sure on whether they should take certain decisions or not. Therefore, in the absence of any senior person in any organization it has an effect on policy implementation and the executions of key decisions. Because the people acting are not sure whether they have to make those decisions. It creates uncertainty and that is not what one wants to see in such a big organization There must be a certainty, stability and clear directions in terms of where the institution is going,” he said.

Kudumo added that the squabbles between Councilors has created an impression that coalition politics cannot work.

Meanwhile, SWANU Secretary for Economic Affairs Issy Tjihoreko said the squabbles between councilors is sabotaging the development of the City.

“The situation at the City of Windhoek has reached a critical situation putting the residents of Windhoek in a very difficult state of affairs in terms of service delivery. The political squabbles that are taking place in the board room is tantamount to sabotaging the development of the City. This clearly indicates that there is no strategic direction as to where the City is heading to. The City of Windhoek is administering a huge budget that must be handled with care and due to its size and experience, it must a set a tone and serve as an example to the rest of the municipalities in the country but this does not seem to be the case,” said Tjihoreko.

SWANU further called for restoration of stability within the City of Windhoek because the need is so apparent now to provide services to the residents of Windhoek. The squabbles, especially within the ranks of the opposition benches has cast a shadow over their abilities to govern. A prominent Swapo Party member was recently stated, “if the opposition cannot run a local authority, how can they run a country.”

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