Swapo bigwigs vacate offices

The mass resignations of Swapo members have taken affect, and hold grave impacts, with the urban and rural development ministry caught “off-guard”.

31 October 2019 | Local News

Many Swapo members who were required in law to resign from their jobs upon acceptance of nominations for the National Assembly have cleared their desks, Namibian Sun has established.

The official opposition PDM is, however, still dilly-dallying on this legal requirement.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is digging in its heels as far as compliance with Article 47 of the Namibian constitution is concerned, saying those required to resign under this law must do so.

Those who have left office so far are Rundu Town Council's Swapo councillor Verna Sinimbo, who says she resigned with immediate effect.

“Can you go back to Rundu Town Council? I have closed that chapter,” she said.

Oshikuku constituency councillor Modestus Amutse has also resigned and has returned his official council vehicle and properties back to council, Namibian Sun understands. Consequently, the councillor for Ogongo constituency Wilhelm Iiyambo has been ushered in to hold the fort at Oshikuku as Amutse's temporary replacement. Chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams has also handed over the reins to her deputy Bernard Songa Sibalatani recently.

Mensah-Williams has also given up her position as Khomasdal constituency councillor.

This was confirmed by the secretary to the National Council Toucy Namiseb, who confirmed that the long-serving politician left the office already on 17 October.

Walvis Bay constituency councillor Hafeni Ndemula is understood to have also vacated his office and his duties will now be handled by the office of Erongo chief regional officer Charles Neidel.

Neidel could not be reached for comment.

Oshakati municipality CEO Werner Iita, who is also required to resign, has taken leave instead.

This was confirmed by municipal spokesperson Katarina Kamari.

“I cannot tell whether he resigned or not. All I can tell you is that he is on leave until December. The manager for property development, Ores Shilunga is the acting CEO,” she said.

Shilunga could however not be reached for comment.

The urban and rural development ministry, which oversees regional and local authority councils is said to have been caught off-guard by ECN's stern stance.

The ministry must ensure business continuity in offices vacated by councillors until substantive councillors are elected or selected.

According to officials within the ministry, no consultation has taken place yet to deal with the disruptions caused by these resignations.

“We have not even discussed the resignations and how it will impact the operations of local authorities,” the source said.

However, deputy minister Derek Klazen said the law is very clear on what must take place when an office of a local authority councillor vacates their office.

“The procedure is quite simple. The Local Authorities Act states that when a member of a local authority council has vacated his or her office or has died, the chief executive officer shall forthwith by notice in the [government] gazette give notice that a vacancy in the membership of the local authority council has occurred, the date on which it occurred and the cause,” he said.

According to the Local Authorities Act, a casual vacancy which occurs within three months of the date on which the period of office of the member who has vacated their office expires, shall not be filled until the next general election for members of local authority councils.

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