Kahimise outcome unknown as councillors recuse themselves

08 January 2019 | Local News

Three councillors plan to table a motion of no-confidence in the City of Windhoek’s management committee following new recommendations discussed this afternoon at a special council meeting to set aside suspended CEO Robert Kahimise’s suspension and to suspend him again, for a third time, to prolong his absence from work.

The three-month rollercoaster ride of in-fighting among councillors and management committee members amidst allegations of gross misconduct against Kahimise continued this week, with new plans to suspend Kahimise based on the view that an investigation into alleged misconduct will not be completed before his return in February.

A 17 December council document, containing recommendations discussed at a meeting held this afternoon, notes that “the current investigation by external auditors (KPMG) into the alleged transgressions of the CEO is anticipated to be finalised by mid-February 2019, and as such council may wish to request the minister for more time, beyond the three months granted”.

The recommendation to withdraw his suspension, according to the documents, comes “in light of his allegations that his suspension was effected without a pre-suspension hearing, a valid reason and/or approval of the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, and that the meeting of 5 November 2018 at which he was suspended was not properly constituted.”

The recommendations state that if council agrees to set aside the suspension instituted on 5 November “then council should consider whether to suspend Mr Kahimise for a period of no longer than a total of 180 days, inclusive of any period of suspension that he may have already served.”

It is believed however that legal advisors have cautioned against this move.

Further, the document notes that withdrawing the suspension, of which he has served two months, “seeks to address the perception that the CEO was not granted a fair opportunity for a pre-suspension hearing before council took a decision to suspend him on the 5th of November 2018.”

These claims were made multiple times by Kahimise and his legal team following his suspension last year and in court, when he launched a failed attempt to have his case heard on an urgent basis in an effort to be reinstated.

Reasons for the suspension are linked “but are not limited to alleged acts of dishonesty and deceit”, including allegations Kahimise participated in a private study scheme without prior approval from the management committee, and unauthorised expenditures for personal benefit, among several other claims.

The notes recommend that council should consider written representations by Kahimise “in respect of his possible suspension”.

The final outcome of the meeting could not be confirmed.

Opposition councillors Brunhilde Cornelius (RDP), Josef Kauandenge (Nudo) and Ignatius Semba (PDM), initially attended the meeting but later recused themselves from the meeting this afternoon for a number of unspecified reasons.

Subsequently they issued a media invitation where they plan to announce their intention to introduce a motion of no-confidence in the management committee.

The trio has long criticised the way in which the allegations against Kahimise have been handled, and have questioned whether the move to out him from his post were in fact linked to ulterior motives, recused themselves from the discussions and announced they would hold a press conference tomorrow.

City of Windhoek councillors indicated that since the “ever-increasing infighting” at the city around Kahimise’s suspension, an “alarming and increasing maladministration in the City" is crippling the office’s work.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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