Kahimise in midst of City squabble

City of Windhoek CEO Robert Kahimise is being made the scapegoat for the recent suspension of the City Police chief, three opposition city councillors claim.

12 October 2018 | Government

An alleged recommendation to suspend City of Windhoek CEO Robert Kahimise is strongly opposed by three city councillors, who claim he is facing persecution from members of the council's management committee.

In a letter addressed to urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga, city councillors Brunhilde Cornelius (RDP), Josef Kauandenge (NUDO) and Ignatius Semba (PDM) allege that during a closed-door meeting this week, some MC members proposed to suspend Kahimise for three months.

The alleged demand to have him suspended, which could not be independently verified, allegedly revolves around a study loan Kahimise had applied for. According to the councillors this loan was “erroneously approved by the mayor and the chairperson of the MC”, a mistake they say could easily have been rectified, and one that had happened before.

The councillors allege further that the animosity against Kahimise can be traced back to his success at cleaning up the City's act, and to the suspension of City Police chief Abraham Kanime.

Kauandenge, Semba and Cornelius write that the CEO was being made into a “sacrificial lamb for their own collective decision to suspend Chief Kanime”.

They say although the decision to suspend the City Police chief was made at the recommendation of the security advisory committee and approved by the management committee, some management committee members have since backtracked and are accusing the CEO of deciding to suspend Kanime without their input.

They write that the alleged decision to call for Kahimise's suspension is payback for removing Kanime, who they claim “was running the City Police as his own island”.

Further, they inform the minister that “there is a tribal undertone currently infesting” the City's offices. They claim that this is based on the fact that the organisation is “led by three Hereros in top positions of the mayor, CEO and chief legal advisor Ben Ngairorue.”

Ngairorue is facing corruption charges for allegedly falsifying documents for the sale of a house over municipal debt. The case has been postponed to mid-November.

The councillors' letter further notes that when Kahimise took the reins in February 2016, the City's management was “in a serious mess”, but a year into his leadership major improvements have been achieved, including restrictions on uncontrolled spending.

The councillors urge Mushelenga to put a stop to the situation, which they say could “lead the City into chaos and anarchy,” as before the appointment of Kahimise.

They call on the minister to call the management committee members to order.

They also want him to provide training to all City councillors to understand the provisions of the Local Authorities Act in order to clarify the separation of powers between the City Council and the municipality.

“Councillors as policy formulators can't and must not intervene in purely administrative matters,” they insist.



Kanime's corner

In a motion tabled in September, management committee member Moses Shiikwa requested Kanime's immediate reinstatement.

The motion said a legal opinion was required to clarify the duties of the management committee and the council, as well as the “legality of the jurisdiction” of Kahimise, in his role in Kanime's suspension.

Shiikwa asked which provision of the law allowed the CEO to suspend the police chief. He also asked why others in the City Police, “who have been charged with the same transgression as those alleged against Chief Kanime” remained in their positions.

Shiikwa argued that the management committee is, by law, responsible for the day-to-day running of the affairs of the City together with the CEO.

“With that fact in mind, why are things being kept away from the management committee members by the CEO?” he asked.

In their letter, the three councillors note that the motion brought by Shiikwa was “surprising” and that he should have known “that the council cannot and should not intervene in any administrative process until it's finalised and presented to the council for deliberations and final decision-making.”

Yesterday, Kauandenge told Namibian Sun that a commission of inquiry was still investigating the allegations against Kanime, and until its recommendations were finalised, Kanime would remain suspended.

He questioned the “haste” of demanding Kanime's reinstatement while the inquiry was ongoing.

Kauandenge further questioned the use of the study loan as grounds for Kahimise's suspension, noting that while it should have been approved by the entire management committee, similar mistakes had been made before, and were easily rectified.

“It's not the first time. It's happened before.”

Questions sent to the City of Windhoek yesterday were not answered by the time of going to print.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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