By Victor Angula |
In the ‘new normal’ environment that is all thanks to Covid-19, towns which will emerge victorious are those which are under the expert hands of CEOs with sound knowledge and experience of not only the world we live in but also the world we are heading into.
Mr Timoteus Namwandi, who assumed the reins on 1st May 2021 as Chief Executive Officer of Oshakati Town Council, says he is just that man.
Omutumwa sat down with Namwandi to gauge his intellectual capacity, measure his desire for public service and test his leadership potential – all in the interests of the residents of Oshakati.
Omutumwa: While political leadership provides overall leadership and direction, the success of a town council depends largely on the Chief Executive Officer’s abilities, willingness and desire to serve the residents of the town. As the “new” CEO of Oshakati what have you brought to the office in terms of abilities, willingness and desire to serve the residents of Oshakati?
Namwandi: I am a people-centred person, and I am here to serve the people of Oshakati guided by the principles of good corporate governance and the legal framework governing the Local Authority fraternity in Namibia.
I am equipped with good knowledge and experience in the areas of strategic planning, management, urban land management and development planning which are quite essential in driving sustainable development of this beautiful town, Oshakati.
My personal traits of hardworking, being ready to listen and learning anytime would really add great value to the dynamic team of Oshakati Town Council as we continue to navigate the challenges of addressing the needs of our residents and providing quality services to our clients.
Omutumwa: Oshakati has gone through a difficult period for the last three years in terms of political leadership squabbles. Even you are aware of the tug-o-war which eventually culminated in your recruitment as CEO of Oshakati. So far as you have been in office, have you noticed any factionalism within the town’s top leadership, management, and staff?
Namwandi: I made a critical analysis of institutional dynamics before I took a noble decision of joining this Local Authority of Oshakati. Honestly up to now, I have not noticed any signs or element of factionalism. I am receiving good and unconditional supports from the leadership of Council, administrative management, and staff members respectively. This has been cemented by the high level of cooperation, mutual respect, and the willingness of everyone to contribute to the success of this beautiful town.
We have all adopted a culture of teamwork and serving our clients and residents with zeal, determination, and integrity at all times. It is a fact that every institution has its own unique challenges; however, over a given period of time I am confident that we should be able to nurture a resilient and professional team, strategically positioned to deliver quality services to our clients.
Omutumwa: Coming from Okahao, a small town which is said to be one local authority if not the only one in Namibia which has no problem of mushrooming shacks and informal settlements, how do you see yourself handling the affairs of a town which is sprawling and disorganized like Oshakati?
Namwandi: It is my belief, that as a collective we should be able to transform this town. Yes, we acknowledge that we have a challenge of informal settlements in the town. As a Council we have taken a strategic decision to formalize all informal settlements over a period of five years to enable our residents to have security of land tenure and proper formalized urban services.
The formalization and decongestion of informal settlements is quite a complicated process as it involves relocation of some of the residents and compensation of certain properties. Hence, it requires concerted and collaborated efforts from all residents and stakeholders.
Omutumwa: Oshakati Town Council has been known for its unwillingness to communicate with stakeholders about its affairs. And lack of communication is mostly caused by people unwilling to open up to public scrutiny. And such a situation normally leads to more maladministration, mismanagement, and corruption. So, in regard to communication, what changes have you introduced?
Namwandi: From my understanding, Oshakati is one of the towns rated to have effective communication with its stakeholders; events such as Business Breakfast, Public Private Dialogue, Public meetings, etc., are just a few that Council has established to get community involved in Council engagements. On top of that the establishments of social media platforms for Council allows Council to have a two-way communication with the stakeholders and residents.
We have also established an SMS billing system where our stakeholders receive their monthly water bills via SMS, also the establishment of every Wednesday radio programme to give information to the nation about all happenings pertaining to Council is also going quite well and we still continue to have our publications such as quarterly Oshakati Today newsletter to enable the community to read all about new developments and activities of Council.
We however are still in the process of developing our communication and stakeholder engagement strategy; in the meantime, we made a commitment to communicate and engage our stakeholders openly. As indicated earlier, we ascribe to the principles of good corporate governance, whereby among other things the public is open at anytime to hold us accountable and answerable.
I should also indicate that the main shareholders of Oshakati Town are the residents including all stakeholders, hence we are duty bound to account and be answerable to the owners of this institution. Our Public Relation Officer is ever ready to facilitate and manage public relations and engagements.
Omutumwa: Four months in your role as Oshakati CEO, what single major challenge have you faced so far? And how have you navigated it?
Namwandi: Ever-increasing demand for serviced land by our residents compounded by lack of funds to service proclaimed townships and construct bulk urban infrastructure. We are busy exploring the possibility of employing certain development model such as Public Private Partnership, Joint Ventures for servicing land and housing development. This would enable the Council to identify potential investors to partner with the Council to deliver these services within the available legal framework.
Omutumwa: New leaders usually come with new brooms; what major change have you introduced or planning to introduce at Oshakati?
Namwandi: Rebranding organizational culture by nurturing a culture of performance, teamwork, and timely response or action in addressing the needs of the community and stakeholders. Building strategic partnerships with stakeholders to harness the required synergy to develop the town.
We are busy finalizing our five-year strategic plan coupled with the implementation of the Performance Management System. Hence, all staff members of Oshakati Town Council will sign a performance agreement.