Darkness falls on government buildings

26 February 2021 | Government

MATHIAS HAUFIKU

WINDHOEK

Affected ministries:

· Safety and security: N$34m

· Defence: N$5.2m

· Agriculture: N$3.8m

· Mines and energy: N$1.3m

· Lands: N$570 000

· Youth and sports: N$2.6m

It was a helter-skelter moment at several government ministries yesterday when the City of Windhoek cut their electricity supply due to unpaid bills.

The unprecedented move by the opposition-led municipality comes at a time when government finds itself with little room to manoeuvre as far as revenue collection is concerned.

According to the municipality, the affected government entities owe the council at least N$41 million.

There were mixed reactions following the decision to cut electricity supply. Critics say the move was not well thought through and they see it as a move by the opposition-led council to embarrass the Swapo-led government.

Supporters of the decision feel it is high time the municipality treats big institutions with the same vigour it treats defaulting households.

Sources at the municipality say the City is only obliged to supply electricity to paying customers.

“Over the years the Swapo politicians who used to control the council used to stop the workers from doing their work. The organisation is owed millions by public institutions but we were prevented from taking action,” said an official who chose to remain anonymous

The City had announced last year that ordinary residents, businesses and several government institutions owed a combined N$935 million.

The safety and security ministry is among the biggest defaulters with a bill of N$34 million, followed by defence (N$5.2 million), agriculture (N$3.8 million), Mines and energy (N$1.3 million) and lands (N$570 000).

Namibian Sun understands that the education ministry’s offices at the Government Office Park were also disconnected.

The country two biggest sport venues – the Independence and Hage Geingob stadiums - were also up for disconnection with an outstanding bill of N$1.3 million each.

The City of Windhoek has been struggling to make ends meet in recent years. In 2019 its budget deficit was a whopping N$1.5 billion. That year, the municipality had submitted a N$5.5 billion budget to then urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga. The minister slashed the municipality’s capital budget from N$632 million to N$83 million.

Mushelenga also barred the municipality from spending N$632 million on capital projects such as housing because he feared that the municipality wanted to put the financial burden on residents.

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