Geingob urged to sort out City mess

10 January 2019 | Local News

Three opposition councillors in the City of Windhoek have accused the council’s management committee (MC) and others of using the allegations swirling around suspended CEO Robert Kahimise to their own advantage, while neglecting to look after the best interests of the City and its residents.

They have also called on President Hage Geingob to urgently intervene, while warning that the ongoing battle within the City is reaching fever-pitch and is threatening the capital’s ability to provide basic services.

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Brunhilde Cornelius, Joseph Kauandenge from Nudo and Ignatius Semba from the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) said a no-confidence motion they intend to table at the next council meeting will unveil a host of serious problems within several branches of the City’s management, which is the real reason for the push to oust Kahimise.

“The situation in the City chambers has become so deplorable that we decided that our silence does not help in any way, and hence we have decided to speak up and seek immediate intervention in the theatrics show currently unfolding at the City of Windhoek.”

They noted that while the motion won’t be carried, as they don’t have the majority of votes in the council, once tabled it will place serious issues in the public domain which they say are crippling the City’s effectiveness.

They claimed the MC members have “betrayed their oath of office by abusing their positions as elected members, whose decisions must primarily be based on what is in the interest of the City, and not be influenced by personal gains”.

They said Geingob should also urgently intervene.

“We want to say ‘Mr President, your capital city is under siege from sources inside and outside and it is in dire need of your serious intervention’.”

They said the line minister, Peya Mushelenga, has to date not approved the City’s capital budget, which is another problem undermining the council’s performance.

Serious problems

Semba, Kauandenge and Cornelius alleged that MC members who did not recuse themselves from meetings around the Kahimise issue last year have “used their positions to milk the City of millions, while they equally benefit from ordinary council allowances, including site visits and workshops”.

Reliable sources said the MC - on average -holds around one to a maximum of three meetings monthly, but that “more than 18 MC, special MC and MC caucus meetings were held between October and November last year”.

It was further claimed that MC members earn a fee of N$1 200 per meeting, N$2 400 per council meeting, in addition to about N$900 per site visit or workshop.

This, plus their monthly income of more than N$30 000, which could not be confirmed via official commentary from MC members or the City’s communication department yesterday, amounted to many thousands being spent during those months.

While a figure was mentioned of nearly N$100 000 being earned per councillor during that period, Namibian Sun was unable to confirm this amount from the available figures given for sitting fees and other earnings from MC positions.

Several attempts to obtain comment from MC members failed yesterday.

One MC member, Teckla Uwanga, the former deputy mayor, said she had no comment before hearing any of the allegations made against the MC members.

She then slammed down the phone.

Smokescreens

The opposition trio repeatedly claimed that the push to remove the CEO from his position was motivated by “ulterior motives”, in an effort to protect “vested interests” gained from helpful positions and connections in the City.

“It is clear as daylight therefore that the real reasons for the suspension of the CEO go much deeper than what meets the eye, and these flimsy excuses of trumped-up charges are just a way to deflect from the real reasons.”

They provided a number of public documents from council and other meetings, which they claimed proved that the allegations against Kahimise were smokescreens to cover hidden agendas to get rid of him.

Kauandenge noted that without a doubt, “Kahimise is the best man for the job, a man who in a year tried to turn around the fortunes of the City, making it financially self-sustainable”.

He said while Kahimise’s work had started paying off before his suspension and after a year on the job, “his only shortcoming was that he is not corrupt, apparently, and that cost him his job, nothing more and nothing less”.

The opposition councillors noted that officials, including City of Windhoek executives who were reshuffled last year, are allegedly “hell-bent on advancing their own agendas at the expense of the council and City residents”.

Cornelius, Semba and Kauandenge said the minutes of a special council meeting called on Tuesday to discuss new recommendations from the MC to reinstate Kahimise and to suspend him for a third time, due to the unprocedural manner of his last suspension in November, have not yet been issued.

As such, it is unclear what the next chapter holds for Kahimise, who is due to return to his office in early February.

The councillors said they were asked to recuse themselves from yesterday’s council meeting, amid claims that they had a conflict of interest in the matter.

They were also refused access to a legal opinion from external legal advisors on whether Kahimise could be reinstated and then suspended again.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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