Africa-Press – Namibia. ELLEN ALBERTZ and CHARMAINE BOOISMALTAHÖHE Village Council chairperson Hanna Swartbooi earlier this week allegedly rounded up local residents to block the construction of a N$3 million sanitation project, because it was not being built by her supporters.
The project is meant to improve sanitation among rural communities and people in informal settlements who are still resorting to bucket toilets and pit latrines.The tender was awarded to Capital Technical Services, which employed people from the local community, as well as people from other regions.Swartbooi was caught on video undoing some of the ground work the construction workers have done so far, saying: “You can record it and show it to the people. I have the last say, because I am the chairperson of the village council.”The video clip has gone viral on social media, with some commentators accusing her of causing division. Contacted for comment, Swartbooi said she would release a statement on the matter “tomorrow or today”. The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) councillor and her team in the clip seem to be refilling the trenches the company was digging to construct a sewer line from the local pump station, because the current sewer line is damaged and leaking.Project contractor Justice Rudolph of Capital Technical Services this week claimed his workers are fearing for their lives as the councillor has ordered people to “deal” with them. They are being threatened by residents as a result, he said.He said the blocking of the work on the construction site started when the construction company employed three more labourers on Monday.Rudolph claimed since the commencement of the project in March, the chairperson wanted to be the sole supplier of workers, and informed the company she would only employ LPM members, as they voted for her. She insisted she is the boss and has the final say, he said. Rudolph said his company is Namibian and has a social responsibility to employ the inhabitants of any town or village where work is being done, and that the company’s employment policy is not based on creed, colour, religion, tribe, or political party.“Our company has three permanent workers, and when we arrived we employed four more labourers from the local people. The councillor supplied them and there was no problem. We realised we needed three more labourers, so we took it on ourselves, and that’s where the problem started. She told us she is the boss and [. . .] we will work with the people she supplies,” he said.Rudolph said the project has not resumed as they first need to hold a meeting with all parties concerned about the councillor’s interference, which is hampering service delivery.’AGREEMENT VIOLATED’Daweb constituency councillor Nicodemus Motinga, also an LPM member, when called for comment said the construction company violated an agreement they had with the councillor to secure certain locals for jobs.They were provided with a list of suitable candidates, he said.He said Capital Technical Services received the contract to do the project based on the mentioned list and agreement. Motinga said when the company employed individuals not on the list, the chairperson called Rudolph in and informed him that his company is contravening the agreement. The company responded by alleging that local people are weak and cannot do the digging, Motinga said, after which Swartbooi went to the site and stopped the project.“So this is not an issue of tribalism or politics. This was purely an issue of breaching an agreement,” he said.Governor of the Hardap region Simon April said he would visit Maltahöhe on Wednesday to familiarise himself with the matter. He said there can be no politics or tribal reasoning when it comes to service delivery. “We cannot do business on that stream,” he said.Henny Seibeb, deputy leader of the LPM, yesterday said they are not aware of the incident and would also familiarise themselves with the facts before commenting.