Oshikoto South: An option or not?
29 July 2020 | Opinion
For reasons only known to a selected few, under some unknown and unsubstantiated reasoning coupled with non-existent supporting arguments, a new regional capital for Oshikoto Region was concorded. Yes, Omuthiya was baptised the new administrative capital of the region. The visible consequences due to the reverse developmental agenda has seen the once prosperous copper town's (Tsumeb) economy take a nosedive. Shop premises are left vacant and malls have been and are struggling to attract new tenants. Families have been separated because partners, husbands and wives had to migrate to a different town in order to hold on to their jobs. The subsequent sequence of events that has also left the informal economy within and around Tsumeb being severely impacted, because of the decline in buying power due to the migration of civil servants. Tsumeb is now left to rely solely on commodities, which is too volatile for comfort and copper prices are known to rise and fall at will. The consequences of relying only on mining can have catastrophic consequences to a town like Tsumeb. Essential services for the mostly marginalised and poverty-stricken Hai //Khom community which make up part the majority population south of the red line in the Oshikoto Region, have as a result been moved to approximately 400 km, making it extremely difficult for them to access the all-important government services and programmes.
South of the Red Line in the Oshikoto Region are towns which share economic, cultural and common historical interests. The restoration of Tsumeb as a regional administrative capital is an explorable possibility in terms of it being part of a new region, a region to be called Oshikoto South.
The aim among many is to remedy the challenges faced by Tsumeb as a town, the neighbouring towns and surrounding communities. It shall create new opportunities for towns in close proximity if incorporated into the envisaged region. The towns of Otavi, Grootfontein through Tsumeb constitute what is known as the golden triangle or the maize triangle. Because of the 60 km radius within the maize triangle, inter-regional trade and cooperation has the potential to accelerate service delivery and socio economic development, while the local communities could reap immense economic benefits.
Agricultural activities, combined with the emerging mining and industrial activities in the Otavi and Kombat area, coupled with some tourists around Guinas, Otjikoto Lake area and the Hoba meteorite site near Grootfontein, make the proposed Oshikoto South region economically viable and sustainable. More importantly, the marginalised, poverty-stricken Hai //Khom community will be able to not only benefit from closer government services, but also with the economic revival and re-alignment they themselves as true compatriots will be able to contribute towards the Namibian GDP. The New Oshikoto-South would include Oshivelo, Tsintsabis, Tsumeb, Grootfontein, Otavi, Kombat and Tsumkwe.
*Marius Patrick Uwu-Gaeb is a “novice thinker's thinker and entrepreneur”.