Suspended Okahandja CEO to return to work

18 June 2020 | Government

JANA-MARI SMITH and

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Okahandja municipal CEO Martha Mutilifa, who has been on suspension with pay for six months, is set to return to office this month.

This following a decision to lift her suspension while investigations into allegations of misconduct continue.

On Monday afternoon, Mutilifa confirmed she had been informed of the decision, but had not yet received the official letter.

Linus //Garoeb confirmed the development this week, saying he could not confirm a date, but said she “will be reinstated anytime now”.



Council dissolved

//Garoeb has been tasked with implementing urban and rural development ministry directives following former minister Peya Mushelenga's decision to dissolve and suspend the entire Okahandja municipal council.

At the time, the minister cited gross mismanagement, lack of accountability and poor service delivery for his decision. He also accused the council of insubordination.

The ousted councillors are mayor Johannes 'Congo' Hindjou, deputy mayor Hileni Iita, management committee chairperson Gideon Uwu-Khaeb and management committee members Helmi Maruru and Sophia Upithe (all from Swapo), as well as opposition councillors Frederick Shimanda and Sylvia Karuombe.



Delaying reinstatement

Meanwhile, the suspended councillors have accused government lawyers of delaying their reinstatement.

Lawyer Silas Kishi-Shakumu, who represents them, said in a letter to Uutoni - dated 11 April - that they will lodge an urgent application at the High Court if government attorneys did not respond to an answering affidavit before 13:00 on Tuesday.



Suspended without pay

Kishi-Shakumu said the councillors should be reinstated unconditionally and with immediate effect.

“Our clients were suspended without remuneration and benefits as early as 16 March. Despite various attempts to have the matter resolved amicably, your clients were not forthcoming and had no regard for our clients' position.”

He further said the attorneys were using delaying tactics.

The government attorneys had informed Kishi-Shakumu in writing that they had been unable to file an answering affidavit, and requested to postpone the filing to 30 June.

This was, however, shot down.



Dubious land sales

Mutilifa was suspended in January over allegations of abuse of funds, fraud, corruption and insubordination that involves dubious land sales.

The allegations included a 30 000-square-metre piece of land, worth millions, being sold for a mere N$90 000, it was reported.

//Garoeb this week said Mutilifa had not yet been charged and that “if you don't charge a person within a reasonable time, you have to reinstate that person”.

He clarified that the lifting of the suspension does not signal the conclusion of the investigation.



Contract extension

A statement issued by the Okahandja Residents Damage Control Committee (ORDCC) in late May alleged that plans were afoot to extend Mutilifa's contract for another five years, starting this September.

Attempts to obtain confirmation from the ministry have been unsuccessful.

The ORDCC noted that such an action would be “shocking beyond belief for a variety of reasons”.

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