Okahandja, Otjiwarongo council elections stumble

07 December 2021 | Local News

AUGETTO CRAIG AND ENZO AMUELE



OTJIWARONGO

The election and inauguration of town council members were marked by division and discord at Okahandja and Otjiwarongo last week.

At Okahandja, the ceremony was delayed due to the late arrival of Magistrate Leonard Mateus and later inexplicably postponed, resulting in three opposition councillors not participating in proceedings at the town’s Magistrate's Court.

Charl Coetzee of the Okahandja Taxpayers Association (ORPA) and the Independent Patriots for Change’s (IPC) Asker Aupindi objected to the irregularity.

According to opposition councillors, Mateus slipped out the back door and never formally or in writing communicated the meeting’s delay or postponement.

As a result, former mayor Natasha Brinkman of the Landless People's Movement (LPM) was not present when her replacement, Isaskar Katuuo of Swapo, was elected unopposed.

The ruling party is now back in control of the Okahandja municipality.

Furthermore, Beatrix Kotungondo and Laurencia Philemon were elected to the steering committee, which will be chaired by the United Democratic Front’s (UDF) Vincent Kariseb.

The UDF's collaboration with Swapo was the undoing of the opposition coalition.

Corruption convict

At Otjiwarongo, Magistrate Ivette Fredricks had to suspend proceedings last Tuesday when chaos broke out after mayor Gotlieb Shivute's nomination of corruption-convicted Hilde Noreses to the position of management committee member, to which the opposition unanimously objected.

Noreses was found guilty of corruption earlier this year, and paid a N$50 000 fine to avoid a two-year jail term.

Earlier this year, Otjiwarongo magistrate Marilize du Plessis found the ruling party politician guilty of corruptly soliciting, accepting or agreeing to accept gratification by an agent as an incentive while she was employed at the finance ministry.

Noreses resigned and paid the fine to continue serving the municipality as a management committee member.

Resign, or get removed

LPM councillor Sebetius Guiteb said “someone convicted of corruption and bribery should resign”, and added that, as mayor, Shivute should have already investigated the issue.

According to Guiteb, an IPC motion for Noreses’ removal was unanimously accepted, but due to health reasons, she had not appeared in person before the council.

"How can a person who has previously been convicted of corruption serve at management level?" he asked.

"This issue is already attracting a lot of attention from the public and this council is considered a failure," Guiteb added.

According to him, the issue should be resolved before 14 December, "so that we can serve the voters with a clear conscience". The council will, however, only meet again on 3 February 2022.

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