The Namibian (Windhoek)

21 February 2013

Namibia: Keetmans Council Opposition Alliance Crumbles

CRACKS have begun to appear in the Keetmanshoop Town Council opposition alliance.

This week the town's mayor, Moses Titus (DTA), wrote to fellow councillors and the council's CEO Paul Vleermuis, accusing management committee chairman Willie Kotze (RDP) of having boycotted a special meeting last Thursday.

"Besides Councillor Kotze who wrote a letter in which he stated that he would not attend, the remaining three councillors (Finna Elago, Gabriel Freyer and Janse Van Vuuren, who represent Swapo Party) had such petty excuses that it clearly demonstrates an orchestrated move of which the reasons are known. No excuse can be a remedy to the seriousness of the business of council," Titus wrote in the letter that was leaked to The Namibian.

Titus yesterday confirmed having written the letter.

Titus called the meeting to resolve a standoff among the management committee councillors which had caused a delay in important decisions to be taken by the council.

According to Titus, the stalemate stemmed from a decision by Vleermuis, allegedly done on instruction of Kotze, to retable an item for the appointment of Pieter Greeff of Seal Consultant Engineers as the council's engineering consultant without following the proper procedures.

"Councillor Kotze vehemently proposed and defended the said appointment whilst his two colleagues in the management committee, councillors Margaret Snewe and Mathilde Isaaks, are opposed to the said appointment. Councillor Kotze does not want to accept the majority decision of his counterparts and has resorted to derailing tactics that involves the CEO, tender board, efficiency committee and some councillors," Titus charged.

Contrary to Titus's claims, Kotze maintained he had a "valid reason" for not attended the meeting and denied that there were any discussions on the appointment of Greeff as the council's engineering consultant or as a staff member.

Titus added that the "dispute about charges" levelled against Vleermuis, the council's human resources head Andre Blaauw and finance manager Quinton Visagie is at the root of the standoff.

Recently Isaaks (RDP) and Snewe (DPN) had boycotted the January 29 management committee meeting.

In a letter they wrote to Titus, Kotze and Vleermuis prior to the management meeting, the councillors threatened to snub the meeting unless pending issues tabled in the previous meeting were dealt with and finalised.

Isaaks and Snewe demanded that charges against Vleermuis and other senior council officials be dealt with and resolved.

The charges against Vleermuis relate to alleged execution of decisions without council approval.

Earlier an agreement was reached to settle out of court a labour dispute with chief administrative officer Hansina Isaacks at the advice of lawyer Gert van der Heever. However, the services of the lawyer were apparently enlisted without council approval and led to unhappiness among some councillors.

The charges against Blaauw and Visagie relate to alleged negligence and incompetence.

The Namibian understands that Vleermuis, Blaauw and Visagie have not yet been presented with formal charges.

Titus has scheduled another meeting for today in an attempt to resolve the standoff among the management committee councillors.

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