12 February 2013

Namibia: Bad Blood Among Okahandja Councillors Wreaks Havoc

A RENEWED spat has erupted at Okahandja between Swapo Party councillor and municipal management committee chairperson Valerie Aron on the one hand and United Democratic Front (UDF) councillor Frederick Shimanda and community activist Frans !Kharigub on the other, with allegations of misconduct flying in all directions.

Aron claimed in a letter to the media that Shimanda was furious when she refused to give him an advance payment, which she described as an "unauthorised and un-procedural request", "illegal and not in line with the governing laws of the municipality".

"The Local Authority Act is clear, the councillors are not entitled to an advance payment, therefore I want to put it categorically clear that [the] municipality is not a cash loan, neither a bank, rules and procedures must be respected. Insurance companies are there for everyone in case of emergency or uncertainty," Aron wrote.

Aron earlier came under the media spotlight when it was claimed that she was building a double-storey house in a public space which at that point still had to be rezoned as a residential area.

When asked about this, Aron at the time refused to comment and referred The Namibian to officials of the municipality to respond.

Other media reports suggested that the council failed to make available serviced erven to ordinary residents, with Aron being accused of having received kickbacks from those who had received land.

But in a letter to the media, the youthful councillor claimed that all allegations against her were unfounded and were made by Shimanda and !Kharigub to tarnish her name.

An angry Shimanda responded that he had never requested advance payment from the Okahandja council, and claimed that Aron was using council communication facilities for Swapo activities.

"Valerie Aron must remember we are seven councillors. She wants the whole municipality to be under her. She thinks she is the mayor. We are here to build up Okahandja, but she is here for self-enrichment. She came here to do business, but I was born here. I am concerned about Okahandja," Shimanda snarled.

The Okahandja council consists of four Swapo members, two from the UDF, one from the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and one from the United People's Movement (UPM).

Aron in her letter further accused Shimanda and !Kharigub of being semi-literate, and advised them to "join literacy and Namcol programmes at leased (sic) to be able to get the basic understanding of the Local Authority Act".

She wrote: "I truly congratulate some councillors who have made an efforts (sic) to upgrade themselves so far. Myself, I am a university graduate with a degree in Business Administration, I have been running my own business complex for more than 13 years successfully and never wrote a cheque that was referred to drawer up to date. That is how I am financial disciplined."

On a serious note, she stated, she advised all political parties to have minimum academic requirements before they nominate candidates as regional or local councillors.

She went on to say that all claims made in previous media reports by Shimanda were baseless.

Aron also urged Shimanda, !Kharigub and all other detractors to share issues and ideas with her at an appropriate time "for the benefit of our town and its residents".

"Before I became a councillor, I have been serving Okahandja for many years in different capacities and I will continue to serve my community irrespective of their political affiliation, race, tribe, or where they come from, to the best of my ability and knowledge," Aron said.

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