Kunene Governor Marius Sheyahas once again emphasised the dangers of tribalism in terms of socioeconomic development, saying it poses a challenge to attaining inclusive growth and shared wealth.
During his State of Regional Address (SORA), Sheya bemoaned the fact that the region is continuously caught up in the trap of tribalism, urging leaders to lead by example in constructing an inclusive and just region, particularly in public institutions.
Sheya has been preaching unity since being appointed Governor by President Hage Geingob five years ago, following the death of the late Angelika Muharukua in October 2017.
The Governor exhorted traditional leaders, politicians, community leaders and religious leaders to encourage and maintain unity in all their initiatives and activities.
“Our diversity makes us strong and unique,” Sheya indicated.
Hethus emphasised the need for collective synergies to deal with the development challenges faced by communities in the Kunene region.
According to him, the benefits of development are numerous, ranging from job creation to higher living standards, adding that “our development strategies must be both ambitious and targeted in order to attract and retain investment while also expanding our regional investment portfolio.”
The region received a budget allocation of more than N$200 million for the 2022-23fiscal year.
In an effort to improve its infrastructure, the Regional Council diverted a larger portion of its 2022–2023 budget of N$175 million towards developmental projects, including the 412-kilometre Swakopmund–Henties Bay–Kamanjab Road.
Only close to N$34 million was utilised for other purposes.
Education is also another vital component of the development of any nation.
The Ministry of Education, Art, and Culture pumped N$216 million into the development and maintenance of school infrastructure.
Schools constructed include Omuhonga Primary School, while Jacob Basson and Kamanjab Combined School’s Boys Hostel received a facelift, including electricity.
“The demands for providing quality education are high, and the government is unable to adequately meet all the needs that are required for life-changing education. That is why private sector assistance is highly valued because their assistance bridges the gaps that ensure access to education for many more children,” Sheya said.
It was during the 2022–2023 budget that Epupa Clinic and staff accommodations were constructed, as well as the installation of additional water tanks and health facility renovations.
Water has also been made available to the residents of Opuwo Rural and Urban, Epupa, Khorixas, and Kamanjab constituencies.
“The construction of an 8-kilometre water pipeline from Ohamaremba to Okanguati water reticulation project phase 3 is in progress. The project is expected to supply water to Okanguati settlement, has a budget of N$24,747, and is anticipated to be completed by November 24, 2023.”
Improved road infrastructure, rural development, and land allocation also enjoyed priority.
The Governor also addressed the drought issue, which has been plaguing farmers in the region, resulting in farmers losing more than 90% of their livestock.
Sheya stated that it is because of that move that the government now delivers food consignments to impacted homes’ humans and livestock.
“We provide 12 kg maize meals, a bottle of cooking oil, tin fish, and soya mince for human consumption.””The Drought Mitigation Program will continue to operate until the fiscal year 2023,” he added.
Due to the prolonged drought in numerous locations, the government extended the drought assistance programme for the fiscal year 2022/2023.
The World Food Programme (WFP) launched a voucher-based relief programme in which beneficiaries receive a voucher for food items worth N$700 each month for three months. This programme is currently benefiting households in four constituencies: Khorixas (370), Outjo (370), Sesfontein (370), and Opuwo Rural (370).
However, the programme has encountered a number of problems, including a lack of transportation vehicles in the constituencies as well as poor road conditions.
Richard Tjazapi, the former Chairperson of the Opuwo Town Management Council, was one of many who opined on the SORA. He emphasised that despite having little resources, most local governments had made progress. He further claimed that conflicts sparked by tribalism have been hampering development in the region.
Another Erongo resident, Buta Domingos pleaded with the government to promote self-reliance among the people, pointing out that initiatives like food banks, gift cards and donations have been encouraging reliance. He urged that, while most people in the Kunene region depend more on the government, platforms like SORA should be used to promote self-reliance and innovation.
While the Governor has accurately depicted certain facets of regional development, another resident Gabriel Gogile urged the Governor to support giving bids to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out in the business world. He proposed that plans for rural electrification be reviewed in order to assist more rural communities.
“The Governor and his staff ought to look into this matter, including the green hydrogen projects that should be used to empower youths, he added.