Lack of visionary leadership worrisome for Windhoekers
By Josef Kefas Sheehama.
The paradox of parties in Namibian politics is everywhere, but perhaps the greatest paradox is that the progressive marriage of the Council coalition has turned the City of Windhoek into the laughing stock of the world! By understanding how they have functioned in the City Council, we can see that parties are much less effectively organized than generally believed.
The City of Windhoek’s management committee, in a special meeting on 22 August 2022, passed a no-confidence motion against its progressive comrades to avert chaos. New leaders have to find their own way. These leaders have the boldness and courage to break new ground. They are often target-oriented and good at giving direction and guidance. To be accepted and followed as a leader, however, it is also necessary to have a clear vision that is upheld at all times, no matter what happens.
And this is a quality that is lacking in our hectic society. So it is time for the visionary leaders to stand up and be counted. They should work for the uniform development of the city by rising above party lines and political affiliations. They owe it to the voters. Everything can change tomorrow and the trick is to move with it without losing sight of the vision. An effective leader focuses on the ultimate goal and is at all times prepared to put up with all the associated bumps and obstacles on the way to that ultimate goal.
It is just not fair to the people of Windhoek to have such a chaotic situation. The City of Windhoek’s underdevelopment is more a result of poor implementation than lack of development visions and programmes. The failure of the City’s governing coalition does not only affect residents negatively but also crushes any hope for cooperation on a national level. The Management Committee members need to be sensitized on putting societal interests first and committing to development visions and programmes.
The leaders need to be sensitized on holding political leaders accountable to campaign promises and undertakings. Furthermore, where leadership is weak, ineffective councils and governance structures have negative consequences, resulting in weak fiscal discipline and administrative instability. This is an unhealthy political situation that requires an urgent resolution of issues pertaining to the functioning of the City Council for the benefit of the residents of Windhoek and equally to those who might require service delivery. The varying ideological positions of parties in a coalition could be the cause of this. So far, both parties have not demonstrated a common policy position that would formalize their coalition deals.
Instead, they have experienced unending inter-party wrangles over crucial policy issues, often leading to political fights among themselves. Municipal failure has an impact on households, small, medium and micro-enterprises and other investors in the local economy. Economic growth, job creation and local economic development depend on the City of Windhoek. The business sectors become constrained when the City fails to function well. Households directly suffer the consequences when basic service delivery is poor.
The City of Windhoek New Management Committee:
It is important to understand the role that the other spheres of the City’s management have to play to help cure the problems. Set aside the political battles, political agenda and personal ambitions and work together for the people of Windhoek. In a worse-case scenario, the City can be put under administration. This means that for a limited period of time the particular line ministry takes over the running of the City to solve the critical problems that prevent it from functioning properly. It’s a very drastic measure and should only be used sparingly since it interferes in the constitutional mandate of an elected City Council.
The lack of vision and inefficiency of the political leadership in the Council has resulted in the visible decline in service delivery to residents. There has been total lack of quality leadership in the whole country and not just in the City of Windhoek. A certain Omuthiya councillor has moved a vote of no confidence in the council’s chairperson. The magnitude of this failure is astonishing. But a great deal of what needs to be done rests with municipalities themselves.
What needs to be done to Improve Economic Growth in City of Windhoek:
The City of Windhoek needs to create plans for growth, be open to change, and get a variety of stakeholders to participate in these plans. The leaders should identify areas with the most growth potential and invest in them in a way that attracts people and businesses. It’s easy to become complacent when the revenue is flowing in. You begin to rely on that fixed income stream and you’re more reluctant to tackle fresh opportunities. It is important that the City of Windhoek pays particular attention to levers and considerations that will enhance its financial and economic viability.
This implies effective revenue management, which includes timely debt collection, regular payment of suppliers and a well-structured and managed repairs and maintenance plan for the infrastructure. But to do this effectively and efficiently, competent financial management is required. Where the City lacks this, creative use of shared services between municipalities could be used. And private sector expertise to help improve financial management and audit outcomes should also be part of the solution.
Accountability is one of the fundamental principles of the country’s constitutional democracy. Good quality financial statements and annual reports are necessary to ensure that accountability and transparency are achieved.
In conclusion, I urge the City’s new management committee to pull up their socks on service delivery. If you fail to do so, the community will be angry and take matters in their own hands. Furthermore, people have lost hope in the City through its leaders. The City of Windhoek has been turned upside down by a chaotic situation in its Council. We want people who will bring us service today not tomorrow.
Therefore, an effective revenue administration that implements well-informed policies and raises sufficient revenues to fund infrastructure development and basic service provision, is crucial for the City of Windhoek.