Grootfontein embroiled in councillor mess

There is a tit-for-tat battle between the urban development ministry and the Grootfontein municipality over who is to blame for an ungazetted town councillor.

23 December 2019 | Government

The ministry of urban and rural development says it will seek legal advice on how to deal with a now recalled All People's Party (APP) Grootfontein councillor who was sworn in twice since 2017 but was never gazetted.

Ministry executive director Nghidinua Daniel, during a routine visit to the council, detected that APP member Victoria Hausiku had never been gazetted.

Hausiku was sworn in to serve as a councillor on 5 May 2017, after she replaced Stanislaus Uiseb, who had been recalled by the APP.

The APP then recalled Hausiku from her position in October.

However, replacing her did not go smoothly, as it was discovered that she had not been gazetted.

This resulted in the Grootfontein municipality only allowing five Swapo councillors to be sworn in on 11 December. The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), which has also recalled its councillor Othniel Tjikuua, did not take part in the election and swearing in ceremony, and is yet to replace Tjikuua. There is now a tit-for-tat battle between the ministry and Grootfontein municipality over who is to blame for the Hausiku saga.

The municipality claims the line ministry was informed about Uiseb's recall and his replacement by Hausiku. However, Daniel said a preliminary investigation showed it was an oversight on the part of the local authority, which never informed the ministry, and had not asked for the Hausiku's gazetting.

“The ministry is in the process of seeking advice on the legal and related implications of the matter,” Daniel said. Grootfontein acting CEO Arnold Ameb said the ministry was informed about Uiseb's recall.

Namibian Sun was shown a letter dated 3 April 2017, sent by former Grootfontein CEO Charles Kariko to Daniel, informing the ministry about Uiseb's recall. Ameb explained that upon the submission of such a letter, the ministry was supposed to degazette Uiseb and then inform the local authority about the vacancy that needed to be filled, which did not happen.

Council was asked why it went ahead to swear in Hausiku as a councillor while it did not receive the go-ahead from the ministry.

Ameb said Kariko informed him he had consulted someone within the ministry, who gave them the green light. He said further that at the time Kariko was also under pressure from the APP, which had threatened him with legal action if the process was not completed.

Namibian Sun saw numerous letters to that effect in which the APP, through its lawyers, Shikongo Law Chambers, threatened Kariko.

One of the letters was written two days before Hausiku was sworn in.

“Should this demand not be adhered to by close business on Friday 28 April 2017, we hold instructions to approach the High Court of Namibia for an order compelling you to do so. Our instructions are further to apply for an order holding both the CEO and chairperson liable, in your personal capacities, for all legal costs incurred by our client, in order to enforce their rights,” the letter said.



Way forward

To rectify the matter, Ameb wrote a letter to Daniel dated 8 November, in which the local authority sought advice on what should follow.

“This letter serves to inform you that the All People's Party, in a letter dated 17 October 2019, notified the municipal council that they withdrew their councillor Victoria Hausiku as their representative with immediate effect. Therefore your esteemed office is hereby requested to advise council on the way forward as the honourable member (Hausiku) had never been gazetted,” the letter said.

APP secretary-general Vincent Kanyetu said he was writing a letter to the Grootfontein municipality, which would include the name of Hausiku's replacement. Namibian Sun understands Meiisolf Hausiku will replace her.

PDM SG Manuel Ngaringombe said they were busy with an internal process to find a replacement for Tjikuua.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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