Crippled CCN limps further into debt

The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) is sinking deeper in debts with no assistance in sight to pull it out of the predicament that has been going on for some years.

The council's acting secretary-general Ludwig Beukes said in an interview with New Era that the organisation is yet to recover from its financial predicament.

Beukes admits CCN is finding it hard to fulfil its financial obligations towards those that that it owes.

New Era reported last year in May about how the Catholic Church in Namibia helped CCN with a loan of about N$700,000 to settle some of its debts.

Beukes said this week that apart from repaying back the loan to the Catholic Church it is confronted with debts of about N$400,000 to the Ministry of Finance for tax that was not paid or properly deducted. Beukes also said that CCN owes the Windhoek Municipality at least N$600,000 and, to add salt to injury, the organisation was handed over to debt collectors.

What we owe is between N$1.8 million and N$2 million, said Beukes. CCN suffered an even heavier blow this year when it failed to secure funding from the Global Fund for the next three years. Under the previous grant, the Global Fund supported the CCN's HIV/AIDS programmes. Such programmes are set to be discontinued as there are no financial means to sustain them. Additionally, CCN had to drastically reduce its workforce. Despite owning offices and flats which are rented out to the public, CCN has not succeeded to make enough money to cover its expenses, Beukes said.

That is partly because some parties are not forthcoming financially, despite occupying the buildings.

Further, CCN makes 10 cents per member from its member churches, which Beukes said is peanuts, yet some members do not pay the membership fee.

We try to rent out our facilities, including offices and flats. We have a lot of people who owe us and some of them are blaming the government for not paying them. What we make is less than that because we have all these expenses, some of which are coming over the years, added Beukes.

Nevertheless, the CCN entered a one-year agreement with Norwegian Church Aid for the LGBTI programme.

It's not something which just started. I think in Namibia it's very difficult to get funding from donors because of the classification, Beukes said, adding that shutting down is not an option. People still see the CCN as a relevant institution to contribute to issues of national interest, he said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia