Gobabis councillors who owe N$650 000 cutting off residents in arrears

Five Gobabis municipality councillors owe the town over N$650 000, while the services of residents with accounts in arrears are being suspended at the same time.

Gobabis chief executive Sophia Eises yesterday confirmed that the municipality has been cutting off services to residents in arrears.
“This is an ongoing activity. We normally cut services [sic] that are overdue, unless arrangements are made,” she said.
Eises would, however, not comment on councillors’ debts.

Documents seen by The Namibian this week state that the mayor, her deputy and three management committee members owe the municipality a collective N$651 997.

Management committee chairperson Isaak de Beer owes the biggest chunk, with N$493 265.

Mayor Melba Tjozongoro owes N$27 542, while her deputy, Nona Gorases’ bill stands at N$52 876, and her partner’s at Epako location stands at N$7 371.

Management committee member Sylvester Binga owes N$4 958, and Elvire Theron and her husband owe N$62 982 for two erven.
Theron yesterday said her bill involves land tax on empty land, and she has made arrangements for payment with the chief executive.

“On empty land, there are no services of electricity and water, so your services will not be cut, especially if you have made written arrangements and you pay monthly.

Sophia Eises

“But for your monthly household accounts, if you do not pay, your water and electricity will be cut off.

“There are people who make arrangements with the CEO, and when they do pay, their services are back on,” she said.

Executive director of urban and rural development Nghidinua Daniel yesterday said the services of the councillors in arrears should also be suspended.

“In principle and for fairness, any law or policy must be applied to all parties, and in the same way/measure,” he said.

“In general, local authority councils are empowered to put in place and implement credit control policies setting out terms and conditions, as well as the management and recovery of debts for services rendered,” Daniel said.

New Era last August reported that residents, private companies and government agencies owe the Gobabis municipality N$61 million for water and electricity,

De Beer and Theron in audio clips plead with residents to play their part in dealing with the town’s dire financial situation.

“We don’t want to cause disunity here . . . we are sitting with a water crisis and we cannot fight nature, but we can fight recklessness and negligence,” De Beer said.

He was referring to residents’s water wastage.

The Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) last August sent the local authority a letter of demand regarding a debt of N$33,6 million.

The town also owes the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater) N$31,9 million.

Melba Tjozongoro

The two councillors recently supported a halt to a push for a 4% salary increment by municipality employees, citing the town’s financial struggles.

This would cost the municipality N$5,5 million.

To ensure the municipality could pay the increment, Eises advised the council to suspend all its operational activities as of 8 March, and to reserve the funds accumulated as a result for salaries for March.

“The management committee takes note that the council can only utilise the money in the operational account amounting to N$2,4 million, which is not sufficient to pay salaries and two mandatory expenses of NamWater’s monthly bill of (about) N$2 million, and NamPower’s monthly bill of (about) N$5,5 million,” the submission reads.

Eises further wanted all municipality expenses suspended to foot the N$5 million increment bill.

“All other operational expenses [should] be suspended for the rest of the remaining financial year for the council to recover, and only statutory expenses or emergency expenditures and non-disrupted expenditures will be considered, salary expenditures, Telecom of Namibia bills, NamPower bills, NamWater bills, fuel, oil and repairs and maintenance bills, costs for power failure and water pipe bursts, and council meeting refreshments bills,” she said.

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