By Jade McClune at Swakopmund
DISGRUNTLED residents of Henties Bay are up in arms over the state of affairs at the coastal town and are now calling for the urgent removal of the mayor and all councillors before the end of the year.
A public demonstration has been called for November 7 at which members of the Henties Bay Residents Concerned Group will hand over a petition at the municipality outlining their grievances, and calling for the disbandment of the entire town council.
Local community activist Andreas Prins said on Monday that in recent months they had several meetings with councilors and municipal officials over “the lack of residential plots, over the water problem and poor services,” but to no avail.
The soft-spoken activist, who led a similar demonstration in May to demand land, water and electricity, said “the community is tired of waiting”, because their concerns are not being addressed.
He said the water situation was particularly bad, because since April the municipality had been closing the prepaid taps of people in the Omdel area who owe money to the Build Together housing scheme. Many poorer families have been cut off from access to water for many months and this was putting people’s health at risk.
At !Oas, there are only two prepaid taps to serve over 400 shack-dwelling households. There are also only two flush toilets but these are not in working order. This makes it hard to maintain personal hygiene and represents a severe health risk for children especially, Prins warned.
He worried that three cases of Hepatitis E had been reported at !Oas in the past two weeks and ascribed the outbreak directly to the water problem. A highly contagious virus, Hepatitus E is transmitted from one person to another via the fecal-oral route (when feces gets in the mouth) as a result of poor hygiene.
Land and housing
Prins said there are hundreds of families on the waiting list, desperate for homes at the town or plots to build their own homes on – and accused Council of stubbornly refusing to hand over the erven and houses built under the Mass Housing Programme.
During the demonstration in May, the protesters also alleged that councilors and officials had arranged land for themselves, their friends and relatives, and that there was unfairness in the appointment of municipal staff.
Henties Bay CEO Reinhardt Ochs and chair of the management committee Michael Skini could not be reached by telephone to respond to the allegations on Monday and Tuesday, and questions emailed to the CEO went unanswered. Current information on Henties Bay Municipality is also scant as its website was last updated in 2013.
Prins said the Concerned Group will lay down the mantle and issue an ultimatum to the councilors and mayor of Henties Bay to resign by 25 December if they cannot deliver, and to call a fresh by-election at the town as soon as possible. He singled out the mayor, Herman /Honeb for criticism, saying the Concerned Group did not want to see him in future meetings.
/Honeb, who has been mayor since November 2015, is expected to return to Swakopmund Magistrates Court on 28 November to face charges under the Prevention of Stock Theft Act. He was arrested in June last year over suspected stolen meat, following a reported forewarning from local residents.
Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu of the Erongo police said at the time that /Honeb had received a full beef carcass between sunset and sunrise without the necessary documents or permit, and subsequently sold it for N$4,000.
Asked about the progress in service delivery at Henties, a municipal official on Monday said they had made some progress inasmuch as the settlement of !Oas was formalised and water infrastructure put in place, but the council did not have funds on hand to pay for the installation of electricity to the new area.
The main problem holding back development at the town was the lack of finances, he reiterated, and because of the high level of unemployment at the town many households could simply not afford to pay for basic services, thus depriving council of much-needed revenue.
The northernmost coastal town in Namibia, Henties Bay has between 8,000 and 10,000 residents, depending on the time of year, and the municipality has jurisdiction over a 120 square kilometer area.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015