Hardap regional governor Salomon April (SA) is no new kid on the block when it comes to regional governance. As a religious leader by profession, he has continuously dealt with communities, thus making his daunting task as incumbent governor a bit easier. New Era journalist Steven Klukowski (SK) engaged the governor on his new role and the development taking place within the region.
SK: Since being appointed as the highest-ranking representative of government in the Hardap region, how well have you fitted into your new role till now?
SA: Since my appointment as governor, I stepped into an environment quite new from my previous job. Taking over as head of the region demands from me to know the relationship and coordination that need to be there between the traditional, regional, and local authority council leadership and the residents of the region. The job description given to me as regional governor was that of my personal compass.
I met with the key role players in the various sectors of the Hardap region and I can confidently say that I am well on track. I am from the region and know the demographics of my people, which is important for our day-to-day interaction with the public at large. The successive meetings I had with the public on resettlement matters, veterans of the liberation war, shack dwellers on housing and the youth are some of the successful interactive meetings I had with the residents of Hardap. I have built a sound relationship with the residents of this region which I intend to preserve and maintain for a long time.
SK: One of the biggest challenges in the region and the country at large is unemployment and poverty, how well has and will your office address this?
SA: Unemployment is a challenge for the whole of Namibia. The outbreak of the coronavirus has seen a lot of people laid off from their jobs. Employers have also scaled down their intake on the workforce during this time and we expect to see an improvement only after the virus is totally under control. My office has been instrumental in the accommodation of 46 kids from the eight constituencies in the Hardap region regarding the road construction project, the MR-91 Project Phase B (Aminuis-Aranos) connecting the Omaheke and Hardap regions through Aranos. The project has somewhat been delayed but we are expecting the appointment of the main contractor to be announced soon and the employment to follow soon. We expect a huge number of intakes of semiskilled an unskilled labour. My office collected information about registered SMEs which will be recommended to the main contractor for engagement.
SK: As a religious leader, one can assume that the well-being of the poor, destitute and less fortunate members of the community lies close to your heart. How do you juggle between your clergy and political duties on a daily basis and furthermore how are you addressing these people’s needs from both sides?
SA: Both as religious and political leader, I have social responsibilities so intertwined that I cannot distinguish between what is political and what is clergy. When it comes to extending a helping hand, I do not look at which denomination the victim is from or which political party. As governor and as clergyman, I have social responsibilities without boundaries and with the Covid-19 pandemic, I solicited sponsorship from benevolent companies who responded positively. I wish to emphasise that I am representing the head of the government of the Republic of Namibia in Hardap region and not a political party. Primarily, I have a responsibility towards the inhabitants of the region above anything else. The food parcels I received were distributed to people in wheelchairs and the poorest of the poor and assistance was also given with food during family bereavements. When you occupy the highest office of the region representing the President of the country, you have a civil and social responsibility towards each and every single Namibian irrespective of race, colour, creed or political affiliation or church denomination.
SK: Many a time residents complained about corruption, nepotism and tribalism in government and other state-owned institutions. How well is your office addressing these issues?
SA: I have an absolute zero tolerance for nepotism, tribalism, corruption and favouritism. Wherever any of these elements obtrude their ugly heads, I shall fight them head on and de-root it. I serve a government which is against any of these and I must operate within the objectives and confines of the government of the Republic of Namibia. With my reasonably small staff component, any of the elements referred to would be very easily detectable. I receive reports from the heads of departments regularly and I can confidently claim that I am on top of things in this region. The slightest suspicion of corruption, nepotism and tribalism shall be reported to the relevant authorities.
I am a forerunner of employing the local people in positions that do not require specialised qualifications and skill. I am against someone from elsewhere being appointed in the region. I am thus misconstrued as being a person in favour of nepotism, negatively affecting other people’s chances in life. Low skill job adverts should furthermore be limited to the local applicants in the region.
SK: What major economic developments and capital projects will be carried out during the current financial year, what ones are ongoing and which ones are in the pipeline?
SA: The region is in partnership with the Environmental Investment Fund at Voightsgrund through the green scheme. The objective is to make Namibia a country of zero emissions by 2030. The pilot project is in its initial stage. The World Food Program has also identified farm Daweb for a food security project. A cooperative has also been formed and agricultural programs have been initiated through hydroponics and horticulture.
In addition a poultry project funded by the ministry of agriculture and a national horticulture project to the tune of N$800 000 funded by the same ministry is ongoing in Hardap region. Hydroponic projects to produce fodder for livestock and the installation of a solar system for water supply are other economic projects in the region. Oskop and Uibes conservancy as well as farm Success have furthermore been granted concession rights in the Naukluft National Park. Funding for that has been secured with the Environmental Investment Fund to the tune of N$1.5 million for investments in various projects within the conservancy. Procurement and implementation plans are in addition already in place for this conservancy.
The design and formalisation of 300 plots at Hoachanas is one of many capital projects in the region whilst the sewerage and waste management project is underway accordingly. Another capital project, namely the formalisation of 37 plots at Klein-Aub, is however still pending. In addition the provision of bulk water supply services are also in the pipeline at Klein-Aub and Schlip. The Rural Development Centre at Gibeon is furthermore nearing completion. There are furthermore various completed and ongoing rural sanitation projects in the rural areas in Hardap region. Other ongoing projects are the children’s play park in Mariental, renovations/ revamps at the Empelheim sport ground and renovation works at Gibeon sports grounds. The prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all these developmental projects negatively, causing the delays experienced.