AR Movement statement on Kavango East Rundu water crisis
31 October 2018
The activists of AR movement have experienced, with astonishment and dismay, the closure of water by the Rundu town council for four consecutive days (27-30 October both days inclusive), we are disturbed by the manner in which the town council handles the water predicament that the residents have been complaining about for the whole of this year.
The people are drinking water from the river or are left with no choice but to fetch for water at far away villages to avoid drinking contaminated water. Constant water closure in Rundu which started in August 2017 and has since worsen is leading to us residents living in unhygienic conditions (we have not flushed our toilets since Saturday 27 October).
The consequences are far beyond hygiene it is life threatening, with reports of children drowning to death in the river. For businesses this is leading to lack of productivity and water dependent businesses are slowly being forced to close down.
Audit report for 2013 shows, the council is making a profit of 124% on water, which is bought at an average rate of N$5.08 per kl from the source (Namwater) and sold at N$11.40 per kl to the consumers, making a profit of N$6.32 per kl sold. This means the council can only make a loss if more than 55% of the consumers are not settling their water debts.
The Town council is well aware of the problems, they keep shifting the blame to consumers failing to pay while the same audit report of 2013 shows 36.8% of the water bought from the source was lost, meaning it could not be billed to anyone.
The same audit report further reveals discrepancies in water meter readings, a problem the town council has failed to address this means the charges being passed on to consumers might essentially be incorrect (possibly inflated).
The residents of this town must know that it would have been easier for the council to instruct the police after they are pressured by the elites to dismantle houses in order for them to build their houses on the land occupied by the poor, they could act serious if they wanted to evacuate vendors looking for bread where they are least wanted by the elite at. We therefore challenge the mayor of the town to resign with dignity through which she might motivate other councilors to follow suit too. We also saying all the officials who are incompetent or those who were implicated into corrupt activities must resign immediately.
The activists of this town are saying that 28 years after independence the Town Council must not and never take people for granted, their attitude must exhibit the understanding of working in a democratic nation, they should not show us the colonial mentality of disregarding the rights of the people and they must also be aware that people are awake now and they cannot continue to be fooled by misleaders.
We demand that central government must take this calamity serious as this is affecting citizens of the very country their leading, therefore the bailout is not something we should discuss until only a month before elections (and use it to score cheap political points, we know your strategies for 2019), the people are tired and need solutions not political statements.
We are mobilizing the residents of Rundu to speak out, demonstrate, we are ready to assist the family of the child who drowned in the Kavango River due to the scarcity of tap water, we will help the residents to audit their meter reading and compare the actual readings to that reflecting on their statements with the town council. Those with discrepancies we will assist in taking the council to court for having abandoned their responsibility of providing service to the residents (a service the residents are still being charged to date inform of basic water tariff).
We must now and in the unforeseeable future know that the council is not on our side as the poor people, they are ready to protect the properties of themselves and their families even if it means the end of our lives.
From Dimbulukeni Shipandeni Hafenih Nauyoma
Activist of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement