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African delegates land here tomorrow

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Three delegates from Namibia, Africa will be arriving in Fort Frances tomorrow to get a firsthand look at Canadian municipal politics--not to mention a good portion of Rainy River District.

Boniface Mutumba, Lukas Muhepa, and Ria Dippenaar of the Namibian Town Clerks Forum (NTCF) will be the town’s guests Nov. 11-16 as the second leg in an international exchange of ideas and culture between the African country and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO).

Fort Frances CAO Bill Naturkach, who is president of the AMCTO, was in Namibia in April with a delegation to present a strategic plan to the NTCF as well as put together a review of why they are an association.

As such, Naturkach earned Fort Frances the right to be the first host community in a series of visits the Namibians will be making over the next year.

“Bringing them to Fort Frances, I’m just thrilled,” Naturkach said.

He also noted the visitors will have a very full itinerary while here, including a tour to several surrounding municipalities, the Abitibi-Consolidated mill, and the “Friends of the Library” dinner/dance to name just a few.

Town council also moved the date of its regular meeting (from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15) so the Namibian delegates could attend it before departing for Toronto early the next morning.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which also is part of the exchange, wrote to Naturkach saying it concurred with Fort Frances being the first stop on the Namibians’ tour, noting the town was a “well-organized community isolated from a main urban centre.”

Naturkach said the NTCF has about 50 members, which is the same number of communities in the small African country, which is only 1000 km by 500 km in size. He said that country is made up of small rural centres with one major city.

From Nov. 16-23, the delegates will spend the rest of their time in southern Ontario, where they will attend the AMCTO’s annual meeting in Toronto.

“That’s where we will adopt the budget,” Naturkach said, noting all 15 board members and nine zone chairs will be at that meeting.

“They’ll see how we run as an organization and they’ll see how municipal government runs in Ontario,” he added. “That’s why we chose this date [for the visit].”

The next phase of the cultural exchange will see another AMCTO delegation head back to Africa for the All-African Forum.

Although Naturkach himself won’t be going this time, he noted, the AMCTO will have a presence there to see the style of African government.

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