11 January 2013

Namibia: Witvlei Residents Question Council

WITVLEI residents are concerned about the state of affairs at the settlement's village council, which they say is currently being run by three people who all answer to the title of chief executive officer (CEO).

The three are JJ Strauss, who has been in the position in an acting capacity, former CEO Chris Murangi who was suspended from the council last year, and a woman by the name of Magdalena who apparently resigned from her post as manager last year.

"We are struggling in our village. We are concerned because while other towns are busy developing, nothing is happening in Witvlei. Currently the council has three CEOs and we just don't know what is going on. Obviously all three are on payroll and we view this as a waste of resources because what do we need three CEOs for? We have raised concerns with the council but they never provide feedback or a platform for us to air concerns," said a Witvlei resident.

Strauss yesterday confirmed to The Namibian that he is currently the acting CEO of the council, and the only one for that matter.

"It is not true that there are three CEOs. Murangi was suspended last year and he is still on suspension. Magdalena, whom they also allege is a CEO, is our finance manager. Yes, she resigned last year but she was brought back in order for investigations that are currently going on to be completed," Strauss said.

He added that the Witvlei Council was not aware of any community concerns as none had been submitted to his office.

"We have quarterly community meetings where the community is afforded a platform to air concerns but none have been brought to us thus far," he said.

Murangi was suspended last year on allegations of maladministration, although formal charges are yet to be formalised against him. Murangi had served in the position for less than eight months.

During his term at the helm, the council made a loss of N$500 000 due to illegal electricity connections.

The council also owes NamWater several million dollars.

Witvlei uses approximately 60 million litres of water per month, of which 42 million litres are wasted through underground leaks in ageing water pipelines, the council reported.

Strauss said he expects community members to air concerns at the next community meeting to take place soon.

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