Geingob sick of City's infighting

The infighting and tit-for-tat suspensions at the Windhoek municipality are hampering development efforts, President Geingob says.

31 January 2019 | Government

Three weeks after opposition councillors pleaded with President Hage Geingob to urgently intervene in the infighting that has led to multiple suspensions at the City of Windhoek, the president yesterday ordered the reinstatement of City Police chief Abraham Kanime and twice-suspended CEO Robert Kahimisem, who has been back since Monday.

Geingob said the deep divisions in the city council and management committee were preventing the municipality and government from addressing critical issues.

“Reinstate everybody so that we can move on to deal with the issues,” he said, referring to a State House meeting with City officials on Monday during which the crisis of informal settlement housing was discussed.

Geingob emphasised that the government was trying to deal with “a humanitarian disaster in Windhoek”, and said a “divided council with people who are suspending each other day and night, infighting and so on” could no longer be tolerated.

He underlined that he was speaking “as president” and that his legal advisors would tackle the legal aspects of his directive.

City Police chief Abraham Kanime, who was suspended with full pay last March, confirmed to Namibian Sun that he had heard about the directive “from social media”.

He declined to comment. “It's too early to comment. I will wait until I get formal notification and information.”

Kahimise, who could not be reached for comment, returned to work on Monday after two suspensions, but was back at court on Monday morning where he was given a brief reprieve from a third attempt to suspend him.

Geingob instructed the councillors yesterday to drop the charges against Kahimise.

Geingob's intervention comes three weeks after a 9 January press conference, in which opposition councillors Brunhilde Cornelius (RDP), Joseph Kauandenge (Nudo) and Ignatius Semba (PDM) called on him to intervene in the City of Windhoek's internal squabbles, as they has the potential to derail any progress made towards the provision of basic services.



Clarity needed

Urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga underlined yesterday that to date, neither Kanime nor Kahimise have been charged officially.

“So if there are charges to be dropped, I do not know whether that is what the president meant, because there is no one who has been charged yet.”

Mushelenga said if the directive was unclear, the council or ministry “may seek further clarity from the president”.

While Semba applauded Geingob's directive yesterday, he agreed that further clarity is needed as the directive has implications on the findings from an external audit that was undertaken based on allegations against Kanime, and the ongoing investigations, as well as pending labour and High Court cases related to Kahimise.

“There has been a team of investigators dealing with these issues. What about the findings? What will we do with them? If it has been found that a person has mismanaged funds, as a councillor we cannot turn a blind eye to that. We need to act based on those findings.”

He added that a written directive from the president will “be able to assist council to act lawfully. Because you have to make sure you follow the law.” Nevertheless, Semba praised the president's decision to issue the directive yesterday and the take the City's leadership to task.

“First and foremost it was high time, because we were waiting for line minister to intervene and the minister failed us. We called on the president to intervene because we were lacking leadership from the management committee to deal with issue once and for all.”

Kauandenge applauded the intervention by the president.

He said it should not be seen as interfering in internal affairs of the City. “He intervened because the Swapo-dominated council MC was seen to be incapable of running the affairs of the city, and the line minister was equally incapable of solving this problem,” Kauandenge said.

Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua applauded the president's directive, saying that the suspension of both Kanime and Kahimise had led to the deep divisions, which could hopefully be put to rest now.

Khomas governor Laura McLeod said the infighting had sabotaged the development of the city and the presidential directive would hopefully put an end to that.



JANA-MARI SMITH

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