Politicians are servants, not bosses – Uerikua

Hands-on leadership approach answer to Namibia’s woes

02 August 2021 | Local News



Otjozondjupa Region governor James Uerikua says politicians are placed in positions of authority to serve - not to be worshipped like demigods.

These positions of authority, he added, are not a testing ground for who has the biggest ego.

Uerikua said this during an extensive interview with Nampa recently which covered issues around governance and how a hands-on, pragmatic and innovative leadership approach is the answer to Namibia’s woes at a time when the State coffers are stretched beyond elasticity.

Uerikua took Nampa into his 14-month journey as Otjozondjupa’s governor.

“What is important in terms of leadership when you are in this position is for you to live up to your mandate, expectations, deliverables that are put in place. Governors are given 13 terms of references where all sectors are touched,” he said.

To navigate through political differences, he said he placed consultations, an open-door policy, impartiality, accountability and integrity at the centre of how he operates.

Since taking charge, Uerikua has held consultative meetings with key sectors, traditional and political leaders across the divide within the region to ensure his office is “in sync with the situation on the ground”.

“I am not much of an office-bound person. I am out there to ensure that wherever service delivery is needed, we are responsive and accountable.”

Challenges and success

Uerikua’s short time at the helm of one of the vastest political regions has not been without challenges. Top being the political environment.

He said: “To navigate, you avoid picking fights and being in the midst of things while focusing on why you are there. We are there as governors to represent the Head of State and the central government”.

The politician and technocrat then pointed to the land delivery acceleration programme in partnership with the urban ministry as a success story.

“Since I took office, we managed to allocate 2 087 erven all the way from Okahandja to Grootfontein and we are continuing,” he beamed.

Other programmes include a youth coordination platform that seeks to bring young people with talent and energy under the same roof with a view to secure funding for entrepreneurial projects and mentorship.

The establishment of the Otjozondjupa traditional authority forum is at an advanced stage, he said.

Through this forum, developmental programmes will be coordinated “and liaised with traditional authorities in terms of their responsibilities within the society and ours as government officials as to how we deliver services”.

Road infrastructure development is also one of the region’s key priorities.

“As we are talking now, a contractor has been appointed for the Tsumkwe, Grootfontein and Gam road to be upgraded from gravel to bitumen standard,” he said.

Also on the cards is the upgrading of the 70km gravel stretch between Coblenz and Okakarara to bitumen.

Livestock theft decreases

“Road infrastructure is a key enabler in terms of community development. There are lots of other roads that were not commissioned but when I took over office, I have put in place road boards and we are waiting for the minister’s approval for these road boards to commence with their work,” Uerikua said.

The commissioning of at least seven roads is on the cards, he mentioned before moving onto other areas of interest such as community policing, which he believes is also at the heart of the region’s development.

For one, according to him, livestock theft was a serious cause of concern that has decreased drastically.