Chaos erupts at Windhoek council meeting

29 April 2020 | Local News

JANA-MARI SMITH
WINDHOEK

An explosive City of Windhoek council meeting held this afternoon stagnated for hours over a heated dispute between councillors over the legality of the meeting amid the state of emergency regulations on gatherings.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Brunhilde Cornelius and Ignatius Semba of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) insisted at the start of the meeting that legal advice first be sought before the meeting continues.
Their political opponents meanwhile argued that the meeting was in line with regulations.
Two hours after the council meeting began at 14:00, the dispute was ongoing behind closed doors, after journalists had been asked to leave one hour into the gathering meeting.
At times the meeting erupted into chaotic shouting and personal attacks that veered from the question of the legality.
Both Semba and Cornelius insisted that legal advisors be brought into the meeting to advise on the issues, while others argued that no legal opinions were necessary and the meeting was in line with regulations, particularly with regard to gatherings of government institutions at national, regional and local levels.
According to Cornelius and Semba the monthly council meeting should have remained scheduled for next week, as per a memorandum issued last week by City CEO Robert Kahimise, who had rescheduled all meetings until after the lockdown period is set to be lifted.
As per the council agenda for the meeting, items up for discussion included staff matters, which may include the extension of City Police chief Abraham Kanime’s contract (according to sources) and consent to operate a bed and breakfast establishment, among other matters.
The decision to bring the meeting forward to yesterday was made less than 24 hours before the start of the gathering, as per a memorandum signed by acting City CEO Pahukeni Titus. Semba stressed yesterday that as per the protocol, council meetings have to be announced 72 hours or more prior to a meeting. He insisted that legal advisors should also clarify this matter.
Before the 14:00 meeting today, Semba and Cornelius opened a case with the Namibian police against Titus for violating the state of emergency regulations around gatherings. The police confirmed they are investigating the matter.
The City’s public relations department said they were not informed that the meeting was rescheduled to take place today.

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