All responding town councils administer rental housing, but town planning functions like plot demarcation and survey, the servicing of new plots, and the exercise of development control are undertaken by only a few councils, the rest relying on the MRLGH and/or private contractors.
However, except for Luderitz, this reflects their very recent proclamation and establishment, the longstanding inadequacy of infrastructure and services in most communal areas, and the fact that, in common with village councils, they still rely heavily on government line ministries (especially the MRLGH) and sometimes private contractors for even basic functions.
This reflects the continuing historical legacy of budgeting and financial administration by the MRLGH and its predecessors, since they had been responsible for whatever services and other conventional local authority functions were actually provided in the communal areas.
All staff in the communal area towns remain technically employees of the MRLGH and are paid directly by it.
Given the high levels of day-to-day reliance on the MRLGH for services, staff appointments, salaries and budgetary control, it is hardly surprising that notwithstanding some complaints and difficulties, relations were generally described as 'good'; one council described them as 'excellent' and one as 'adequate'; none reported 'poor' relations.
Among the other most widely cited problems were high levels of unemployment and poverty, housing shortages, the lack of funds and shortages of skilled personnel, along with the delays associated with having to seek MRLGH approval from Windhoek for even modest expenditures, for all personnel matters and the supply of maintenance materials.
This is not surprising in view of their autonomy from the MRLGH under the Act.
Relationships with the MRLGH were reportedly very positive, but limited to liaison and the provision of legal advice and approval of local amendment schemes.
Problems cited were principally to do with the paucity of MRLGH loan funds, arrears in receipt of payments for services, and indebtedness of the poor in the community.
It was suggested that the MRLGH could usefully have instituted appropriate training sessions on councillors' duties and responsibilities, council procedures, and interpreting the Local Authorities Act.
It has become evident, however, that, notwithstanding some efforts by the MRLGH, local authorities and the Directorate of Elections and foreign donors, there was an unmet need for far more clearly focused and sustained induction and subsequent training programmes for new councillors.
In most cases, they have only skeleton staff, especially in the more skilled categories, and they remain reliant on the MRLGH and other agents for many services, the bulk of their resources and revenue, and administrative support.