Rehoboth Baster Community

Rehoboth Demonstration ‘Politically Driven’

Published by Feb 04, 2008

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Chairperson of the Management Committee of the Rehoboth Town Council, David Richter, accused Rehoboth East councillor, Edward Wambo, and Swapo district coordinator, Willie Swartz, of instigating a demonstration by youths from the town’s Block E last Friday

Tens of youths gathered at the Rehoboth Town Council and handed over a second petition to the chief executive officer of the town council, Theo Jankowski.

The first petition was handed over reportedly by more or less the same group on January 23.

“The petition was politically driven,” said Richter. “The demonstration was planned in the office of the Rehoboth East councillor.”

He also claimed that people who have fallen behind in rates payment to the council are responsible for the demonstrations.

He further said that Swartz had been suspended from the Swapo Party and also suggested that Swapo Party members on the additional membership of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) are behind the demonstrations.

“If they want to leave Swapo, then they must do so and not instigate people,” said Richter.

He also claimed that members of the community were made to sign the petition under the pretext of getting jobs.

Richter also said Swartz had drawn up the petition for the January 23 demonstration and that youthful demonstrators had to wait for him for half an hour in front of the town council building while they waited for the petition from him.

Both Wambo and Swartz categorically denied any involvement in the two demonstrations and petitions.

Wambo said he only saw news about the petition on NBC television, while Swartz said he had “absolutely zero” involvement in the planning and execution of the two demonstrations.

In response to Richter’s claim that Swartz was suspended from the Swapo Party, the latter responded by saying that only the Politburo of that party suspends members and that he had not received any correspondence to that effect.

“Unless he [Richter] is aware of some secret document [from the Politburo],” said Swartz.

The petition handed to Jankowski on Friday, reads that the petitioners “are not happy with the procedures that are followed in awarding tenders”, among others.

The petition charges that people are being drawn from the streets and appointed as casuals and eventually given permanent jobs.

“[Which] criteria are used then? These positions have never been advertised,” the petition reads.

It further charges that the town council threatens and blackmails community members with job lay-offs “to achieve their political gains”.

They also complained about the removal of pre-paid water meters from homes, “while they are still in full-swing at the houses of the councillors”.

One of the concerned youths, Sylivia Swartz, claimed that a tender was given to the mayor’s brother, Stephanus Dax, to maintain the bucket toilet system in Block E, at a monthly fee of N$40 000.

Another N$1-million tender was advertised for sewerage reticulation. The youth claimed that this tender was earmarked to go to either the mayor’s brother or another person with allegiances to members at the council.

The petitioners claimed “favouritism and nepotism” and the January 23 petition claimed that the tender for the sewerage work had been allocated without tender procedures being followed to “favoured individuals to advantage them in the subsequent process”.

Richter, however, denied that the tender had been awarded to anyone yet.

The tendering process ended on January 25 according to him.

“We forthwith demand that no tenders be awarded or further appointments be made during the next two weeks in order for the council to account to the impoverished community of Rehoboth on their actions,” Friday’s petition read.

The demonstrators gave the council until February 15 to come up with a proposed date for a dialogue with the community.

Jankowski told New Era that the town council is in the process of terminating a contract with Water Masters, the company responsible for the pre-paid water meters, because of unsatisfactory services by the company.

He also said that although problems crop up with the refuse removal system, monthly meetings are being held with service providers to discuss such problems.

The town also received N$30 000 sponsorship from Old Mutual to bring in rubbish bins.

He said the council will have a meeting tomorrow, at which the petition is likely to be discussed.

Jankowski further said that the town council gives “special attention” to Block E – the impoverished part of the town where most housing consists of corrugated iron sheets.

Last year a tarred road was built at Block E to the value of N$2 million, at the expense of other “better off” rate-paying neighbourhoods.

Richter also said that while residents at Block E only pay N$174 for water to be connected, the rest of the town’s residents had to pay N$1 400 for the same service.

“The residents of Block E have exactly the same services as other areas in the town,” said Jankowski.

Source: Newera