We are blessed to live in one of the most remarkable city in Namibia. The diversity of our people, the geographical location, and recreational and business activities, all make the City of Windhoek home to equally colourful and unique folks.
However, the battles that have engulfed the City of Windhoek over two (2) years now need to be plugged as they have gone on long enough. The political intrigues and hassle in the City are enough an indication of how these relentless battles have caused the City, those that are supposed to receive good service delivery. Given the weak economic outlook and the constrained resources of the City of Windhoek, the actions of the city must be focused on improving their efficiency, reinvesting more in infrastructure maintenance, introducing a strategy to reduce illegal electricity connections, enhancing revenue collection, in particular prepaid metering, identifying a new alternative source of income to fund infrastructure, subject to own sources of income is maximized, as well as reviewing and reform its policies.
Therefore, strategic governance and financing systems can provide hope for the struggling City of Windhoek. There are opportunities for matching local needs with institutional frameworks and revenue-generation tools. Appropriate financial management can tap into strategies that improve the efficiency of revenue collection, win public support, capitalize on urban economics of scale, curb land speculation and sprawl, incentivize economic activity, and improve urban affordability for the poor. The resulting budgetary improvements can allow the City of Windhoek to make strategic investments, stimulating a virtuous cycle of growth, revenue generation, and prosperity. The City of Windhoek should engage with other institutions such as BIPA and NSA to obtain proper information such as how many SMEs are registered.
Effective financial management is critical to any organization. In the context of the City of Windhoek, a lack of sound financial management will have a direct adverse impact on service delivery as there is a strong correlation between sound financial management and effective service delivery. At the heart of the City of Windhoek, is a lack of basic systems of accountability, skilled personnel to carry out transactions, leadership oversight to prevent financial losses, and performance management systems for employees. The most important ingredient is sound financial management and it requires the deployment of suitably skilled people at the right places and a continuous building of internal capacity rather than a reliance on external parties such as consultants. But the biggest direct threat to the viability of the City of Windhoek is a failure to collect and adequately measure revenue. Another is having accounting officers fail to take reasonable steps to prevent irregular, wasteful or fruitless expenditure. A municipality can generate its income via property rates, service charges, and fines. Property rates are sourced from owners of land, homes, buildings, or businesses.
The amounts levied by the municipality for property rates are generally based on the value of the property. The municipality also makes use of charges that are levied on services such as water, electricity, sanitation, and refuse removal. Municipality also sometimes charge users for the use of their facilities, such as sports grounds and recreation centers. Fines and penalties are other sources of internally-generated income. These include, among others, traffic fines, penalties for contraventions of by-laws, and penalties for overdue payments of services.
My humble advice to the City of Windhoek is to put in a system of internal controls to narrow any opportunity for people to abuse public resources. This means that the City of Windhoek manager should present the council with a plan of execution for all the projects the City will be engaged in that will require the council’s support and involvement, but not the interference of individual council members. It is important to avert the risk associated with not meeting the needs of the citizens, the council is the best place to present the plan on how the projects that have been agreed upon will be implemented. But council members will need to be made aware that they are not responsible for deciding which companies must be awarded contracts to carry out those activities. Furthermore, a detailed analysis must be undertaken to determine the reasons for this loss and steps to be taken to address it. An expansion of the workforce should be limited to an expansion in service delivery, with related revenue increases to fund new appointments. The long-term infrastructure plans should be reviewed to ensure adequate provision for new or replacement assets coupled with a sustainable financing strategy.
Moreover, the City of Windhoek facilitates suitable informal sector facilities and charge fee. This will serve as an additional income stream. The decision for these businesses to formalize depends on the benefits that are derived from formalization over the risks of remaining in the informal economy. Importantly, the Municipality policies on the sector should focus on investing human capital in the informal sector for this will encourage innovation and thus promote industrialization and further economic growth. Investing in the informal sector can be an important strategy for promoting economic development. Policies should therefore focus on formalizing the informal sector for this will address all the challenges faced by the sector.
Therefore, the City of Windhoek, being the sphere of administration closest to the people is faced with numerous challenges in its quest to provide essential services to the people and in particular the poor and disadvantaged section of the population. However, the recent wave of unrest in the City sphere, and the dissatisfaction expressed by the local community question the ability of City of Windhoek leaders to effectively and efficiently provide essential services. If the inadequacy of the City of Windhoek to fulfill its mandate within the constitutional and legislative framework does not receive serious attention in the short to medium term, it could detrimentally affect the long-term stability of Windhoek