Jefta M Gaoab
The town of Otavi is strategically located in the Otjozondjupa region, in the area affectionately known as the Maize Triangle, endowed with natural free flowing water springs and reservoirs. It receives good rainfalls annually and the past rainy season was a blast.
Water is life and a very scarce commodity in Namibia. On 25 March 2021, International Water Day was celebrated and Namibia also joined the rest of the world in celebrating this very important day that underscores the importance of water.
From the onset, I must categorically state that I subscribe to the notion that where a service/s is/are rendered it must be paid for based on the agreed terms and conditions. In the same vein, whenever there is a breach of trust or no compliance by one party to other, necessary action must be taken to compel the defaulting party to perform. Equally, when there is thievery or overcharging for a service not properly rendered, it must not be entertained and paid for.
In the recent past I watched on the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (Nbc) news and on social media platforms how the former Mayor of Otavi George !Garab, now the Regional Councilor of Otavi Constituency, narrated the water woes of Otavi as compounded by Namwater. It triggered my long-held skepticism on how Otavi, so endowed with water is so dependent on parasitical Namwater? With keen interest I launched my own investigation and visited the water site (water reservoirs) Newsprintof Otavi which to my surprise was quite interesting. Namwater has been riding and still rides and piggy backs on Otavi Town Council’s water reservoirs and in turn bills Otavi Town Council millions on their own water meters.
Few weeks thereafter, the CEO of Namwater paraded in the print media the debts for water provision owed by the village councils, town councils, local authorities, municipalities and government ministries. Otavi Town Council was also cited as owing Namwater a whopping N$26 million. This N$26 million obviously forms part of the illegal and stolen water billings towards Otavi Town Council, which is paid by the residents of the town to the Town Council and later to Namwater. Seemingly and obviously Otavi Town Council is a cash cow for Namwater. Namwater must disconnect their water meters they illegally connected to free flowing Otavi water meters and write off as bad debt. What they are legally charging to Otavi Town Council must be honored and paid.
To a certain extent, the former leadership of Otavi Town Council must also be blamed for having allowed Namwater a free-flowing ride and access to their reservoirs only to be strangled with nonsensical water bills. Elected leadership must bear in mind that they are not put into positions of trust by the electorate to warm the chairs. They are there to be the electorate’s eyes and ears, to bring about much needed development and change to ease the living standards of the electorate who are also residents. Otavi’s water woes are man-made. Those appointed in the leadership positions on the Town Councils, Municipalities should not rest on their laurels but instead be part of the change they need to see. They must have honest and robust conversations and put the interest of the residents at the forefront.
Many times, we are all comrades at the opposing tables of the institutions we serve with different mandates. The comradeship should not cloud the logical reasoning and judgement of the pertinent issues at hand. To hell with comradeship! This “comradeship” or “comrade syndrome” is normally and generally abused and raped at will by weak leaders with no substance. This widely held belief that comrade is never wrong and that comrade cannot be challenged is a non-starter and is wrong. Because of comrade syndrome the poor electorate suffers, and its plight is never addressed.
As rates and taxes payer to Otavi Town Council I cannot tolerate this. It also impacts the vulnerable and unsuspecting residents including the pensioners and elderly. They feel the brunt of Otavi’s water woes as a direct result of Namwater. N$26 million purportedly owed by Otavi Town Council to Namwater is not the true reflection of what is on the ground I firmly believe that Honourable !Hoaeb, the current mayor of Otavi, is able to restore the water woes of Otavi and cut off the umbilical cord with Namwater. Look at other ways and means and put up water infrastructure to provide your own water to the residents at affordable rates, this is doable. There are other towns that have successfully implemented this and Otavi is very uniquely placed to do the same.
As for Namwater’s leadership: introspect yourself and don’t forget your organizational values as you do that. Any form of public relations exercise instead of coming clean on Otavi’s water woes will not solve anything. Alternatively, we can go on national television or social media platforms to put things into perspective for the public to judge.
* Jefta M Gaoab
Otavi Rates and Taxes Payer