The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Karas Council Bank Accounts At Risk

THE controversy over the suspension of two top officials of the Karas Regional Council is now threatening to block the flow of funds to and from the council.

First National Bank of Namibia (FNB), where the council has its accounts, has threatened to freeze them because of conflicting instructions it has been getting over who has signing rights.

The two suspended officials, Saul Kahuika and Joseph Stephanus, had signing rights but after their suspension the council instructed the bank to replace them with the acting chief regional officer, Augustinus Ucham, and Absalom Naseb.

Kahuika and Stephanus have been refusing to vacate their offices, saying their suspension was unprocedural.

They were backed by the Public Service Commission, which said the suspensions were illegal. Ucham's appointment as acting CRO has also not been endorsed by the Public Service Commission.

FNB's threat to freeze the regional council's bank accounts came after it had received opposing instructions from the Regional Council and the Local Government Ministry's permanent secretary, Sirkka Ausiku, on who should have signing rights.

Ausiku wrote to the bank that Stephanus and Kahuika remained the authorised signatories as their their suspension was "illegal" and had been declared null and void by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Following another attempt last Monday by the council to cancel the signing rights of Kahuika and Stephanus, the bank warned of freezing the council's accounts if it fails to resolve the matter.

On advice from its legal department, the bank decided that Kahuika and Stephanus would keep their signing rights, The Namibian was reliably informed.

Commenting on the dispute, Kahuika yesterday said: "I am still the signatory on all council accounts."

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