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INTERVIEW: Katutura Residents Committee Member Shaun Gariseb on City of Windhoek Debt Write-Off Update

todayJune 3, 2024 9

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In a recent address, Shaun Gariseb, a committee member of the Katutura Residents Committee, provided an update on the City of Windhoek’s (CoW) debt write-off programme. The programme, which aimed to alleviate financial burdens for residents, officially concluded on Friday, May 31. However, Gariseb highlighted several critical issues and concerns regarding its implementation and impact.

Debt Relief Programme’s End and Resulting Challenges

Gariseb began by noting the end of the debt relief programme and quickly pointed out the significant problems caused by the conditions set forth by the city. These conditions, according to Gariseb, were particularly challenging for pensioners and did not address the underlying issues effectively. He emphasized, “The conditions that we set created lots of problems because we wanted you to know that these conditions will be a challenge to pensioners and we will not solve the problem as it is.”

Financial Discrepancies and Programme Effectiveness

One of the primary concerns raised by Gariseb was the discrepancy in the financial figures related to the debt write-off. Initially, the cost of the write-off was stated to be 38 million Namibian dollars. However, a previous announcement on December 14, 2023, indicated that 524 million Namibian dollars were earmarked for the debt relief programme. Gariseb questioned the accuracy and transparency of these figures, asking, “How did they arrive at that amount if the write-off is subject to application and acceptance of application to be written off for?” He argued that the programme was a failure, as only 38 million out of the 524 million allocated had been utilized.

Call for Programme Extension and Infrastructure Concerns

Gariseb urged the City of Windhoek to consider extending the debt relief programme, especially given the lack of necessary infrastructure, such as meters, which residents are required to install as part of their agreements. He pointed out that pensioners are being forced to make agreements without the availability of these meters, creating further complications. “The City of Windhoek must seriously consider extending this programme,” Gariseb insisted, adding, “They do not even have the meters that they are forcing residents into making agreements with.”

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, Shaun Gariseb called for an indefinite extension of the debt relief period until all necessary conditions, such as the provision of meters, are met. He highlighted the ongoing struggles faced by pensioners and other vulnerable residents, advocating for a more compassionate and practical approach from the City of Windhoek. The call to action is clear: “As long as they don’t have the meters yet, they must extend the period of this debt. In fact, there must be no cut-off because there are no pensioners and there are no meters.”

For more updates on community initiatives and responses from local authorities, stay tuned to our website.

Written by: Leonard Witbeen

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