Okahandja suspends CEO

14 January 2020 | Government

The Okahandja municipality has suspended its CEO Martha Mutilifa with full pay over allegations of abuse of funds, fraud, corruption and insubordination that involves dubious land sales.

The suspension was confirmed by a special council meeting held on 24 December last year, amid allegations that included a 30 000-square-metre piece of land, worth millions, being sold for a mere N$90 000.

The alleged dubious land sales took place despite a moratorium dating back to 2015 on the sale and leasing of land that was imposed by the urban and rural development ministry.

The moratorium was put in place by then minister Sophia Shaningwa in August 2015, in an effort to halt the selling and leasing of land by the municipality without following the correct procedures, including getting approval from the minister.

In 2017, Shaningwa said the government would only lift the ban once an audit had been completed.

Mutilifa's suspension letter was signed by council management committee chairperson Gideon Uwu-Khaeb, who informed her that a full investigation would be conducted into the allegations levelled against her.

“Throughout the period of your suspension, you shall not enter the CEO office and you are requested not to continue with all delegated functions of the council,” the letter reads.

Mutilifa allegedly signed over power of attorney in 2019 to individuals to transfer land deals dating back to as far as December 2004. She has also allegedly failed to produce council resolutions for these deals, according to legal documents seen by Namibian Sun.

According to a senior source and copies of documents in possession of Namibian Sun, land measuring roughly 30 000 square metres, worth about N$10 million, was sold for a mere N$90 000.

“We are looking for the council resolution; there is nothing. We wrote to her twice to ask for an explanation. We even visited her personally, demanding to see the papers supporting the transaction for these land deals, but she could not give us anything. The council also asked why it took 15 years to approve the deal, but there was no explanation,” the source said.

Mutilifa, who confirmed her suspension, declined to comment any further.

Long overdue

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) councillor Sylvia Karuombe said the suspension was long overdue because Mutilifa had shown disrespect of the council.

“The thing is, she keep on doing things and signs documents, even though she knows someone must co-sign with her. In fact, this suspension should have come a long time ago. Insubordination is happening here in Okahandja every day. There are a lot of things that she is guilty of. For instance, if we have a meeting and the council makes a decision about something, she would simply tell us she won't do it,” she said.

Okahandja mayor Johannes 'Congo' Hindjou declined to comment on internal matters.

Minister of urban and rural development Peya Mushelenga said he could not comment because he was on leave.

“I am on leave; it was a hectic year,” he said.

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