Unemployment blamed on debt owed to Katima Mulilo Town Council

Hetta-Maria Amutenja

Katima Mulilo Town Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Raphael Liswaniso, has attributed the town’s staggering debts of over N$99 million to high unemployment rates, which has led to residents being unable to pay for their water, land, rates and taxes.

Liswaniso made these remarks yesterday in an interview with Windhoek Observer, where he emphasised that a significant portion of the town’s population lacks a reliable income.

“The country is grappling with an unemployment rate of approximately 52 percent. With a population ranging from 45,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, nearly 80 percent of them are unemployed. The residents do not have sources of income to settle their outstanding debts,” he said

While Namibia’s overall unemployment rate hovers around 35 percent, youth unemployment is estimated to be close to 50 percent.

Liswaniso told this publication that the accumulated debts date back to 1995 while clarifying that the Town Council does not intend to write off these debts and it is determined to recoup every cent.

In June last year, the Town Council sought the assistance of Redforce Debt Collectors to address the escalating debts which at the time stood at N$ 148 million.

It has been revealed that nearly 80 percent of residents, out of a total of 7 200 ratepayers, are currently in default, comprising both residential and business entities.

According to Liswaniso, the debt included N$103 million owed for services and N$ 45 million for land. Of the total arrears, businesses and government institutions are responsible for approximately N$20 million.

The CEO revealed that the debts have been reduced to just over N$99 million due to recent efforts by Redforce Debt Collector who are tasked to recover 100 percent of the outstanding debts under a contract of five years.

The town has been reported to have been grappling with infrastructural challenges, leading to frequent water cuts, leaving residents vulnerable to crocodile attacks as they fetch water directly from the Zambezi River.

The town has also faced criticism in the past for its deteriorating poor service delivery, stretching from dilapidated sewerage system, potholed roads, and lack of land development among many others.

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