Houses for Governors On Cards

THE government has decided to build houses for regional governors after an outcry by the office-bearers about the lack of accommodation or the poor quality of houses provided for them.

Regional governors are appointed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba and might not necessarily have houses of their own in the regions they are appointed to serve. In the past regional governors were elected from within the region and would have their own houses there.

The Namibian understands the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, wrote to governors asking them to identify land in their regions on which the government would construct houses for them.

Namoloh confirmed sending out letters yesterday.

“The construction will be done by the Ministry of Works and Transport,” he said.

Omusati regional governor Sophia Shaningwa yesterday confirmed that she had received instructions from the ministry to identify a plot for building a house for her.

Shaningwa said the government’s decision is commendable because governors’ living conditions are poor and that there is no permanent accommodation for them. She revealed that the Omusati Regional Council had followed the ministerial instructions and identified a piece of land for the project.

Another governor, who declined to be named, also confirmed receipt of the ministerial directive to identify plots to build houses for political office bearers.

Sources told The Namibian that government is also considering converting the planned regional mini State houses into houses which will be occupied by the governors.

It is not clear which regions will get priority in the construction of the new houses or how much government will spend on the project since some regions such as Otjozondjupa already have houses for the governor.

Even though officials said there is no funding for the project, the budget tabled this year shows that the State has approved plans to build presidential guest houses in the regions at a cost of N$1,2 billion.

A report in a weekly newspaper earlier this year said several governors do not have permanent residences in the regions where they work. The report said Khomas governor, Laura McLeod-Katjirua lives in a rented house Kunene governor, Joshua Hoeseb uses his house as office and Karas governor, Bernadus Swartbooi drives 40km to work every day.

Hardap governor, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, has been vocal about the need for better housing for governors.

“The governor is the first face of the government within a region and in terms of responsibilities, we are the first authority of the regions the eyes and ears of the President,” Hanse-Himarwa was quoted saying in a media report in January this year.

She said people cannot expect excellent performance from a “limping governor”.

“If a governor does not sleep or eat well, they will not be able to perform well. The houses are not fully furnished, nor do they have house assistants. The houses governors live in are not to the standard they should be, to receive the President, the Prime Minister, or even foreign dignitaries visiting the region,” she said.

Ironically, the same report also quoted Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua as saying governors should not be living in lavish houses while the people they serve live in poverty.

Source : The Namibian