The Rundu Rural Constituency councillor says that despite various studies revealing that Kavango East is one of the poorest regions, the central government has not done enough to turn the tide. 

Paulus Mbangu was addressing the Minister of Mines and Energy during an engagement with the Kavango East Regional Council. 

According to Mbangu, four income and expenditure surveys were carried out between 1993 and 2014, and they all established that the Kavango regions were the poorest. 

An agricultural census in 1995 and 2005 had the same result.

The levels of poverty survey in 2004, the National Census in 2011, and a UNDP report in 2015 once again proved that the Kavango Regions topped the poverty list.

"For the past 34 years, at no point has our government or our cabinet prioritised the plight of this region. At no point. Scientific data is in the hands of the government, but at no point had our cabinet said, colleagues, 'We have this data in front of us; let's address the poverty in Kavango Region'. It has never happened.  It's not an exaggeration if a person can claim and say that the central government has been too ignorant of the plight of our people," said Mbangu. 

"The idea that somehow the central government ignores the plights of the Kavango East Region is certainly misplaced. I don't believe the central government has any reason to single out one particular region and not address its issues. I'm not denying the fact that maybe we are not doing better or enough, but it cannot be because we took a decision not to address Kavango East issues," replied Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo.

Mbangu, however, believes Kavango East needs special attention based on the data. 

"What is the use of carrying out surveys or collecting data if the allocation of resources is not informed by the data from GRN? If we are saying we are a caring government, let's treat this region as a special region to address the issue we are grappling with."

The Minister of Mines and Energy admits that perhaps they failed to look at the underlying reasons leading to the region's poverty status. 

"At times, what we fall short of is going behind the reasons why Kavango East is the poorest. Why is that? If we don't go beyond that statement and figure out what the issues are, then we should try to craft a special programme to address that particular reason. We can talk and try to apportion blame to say, so and so didn't do anything, but I think all of us must make sure that happens." 

Alweendo says that even though limited financial resources are a contributing factor, it should not limit people from being more efficient and innovative with whatever they have. 

"Let us also be careful not to fall into the trap of playing victim because I'm the poorest. It can easily become an issue to say that I'm not developing because I am the poorest. As our late President used to say, don't be a victim; be a victor," he added.

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Frances Shaahama