25 February 2013

Namibia: Witvlei's Woes Continue

THE WITVLEI village council's chairperson, Livey van Wyk, remains tight-lipped over the progress made in an investigation into allegations of maladministration against the town's chief executive officer, Chris Murangi.

Murangi was suspended barely eight months after his appointment as CEO of the village in July last year.

The Namibian is reliably informed that infighting between the three Swapo Party councillors is hampering progress in the matter.

Van Wyk and another Swapo councillor, Magdalena Murangi, refused to comment on Murangi's suspension as well as the alleged disunity in the council, while their colleague Dawid Nuule, denied the disunity claim.

Nuule said Murangi is accused of having "taken something illegally from the council" but refused to divulge any further details.

Anton Ganeb of the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) could not shed more light on the investigation either, only saying that it would be concluded soon.

Ganeb urged the media and the community of Witvlei to rather focus on positive things such as the provision of housing that the village council is busy with.

Immanual Koiseb of the United Democratic Front could not be reached for comment.

The Swapo coordinator of the Omaheke Region, Kejamuine Munjendje, said his office was aware of Murangi's suspension and the alleged disunity among the ruling party's councillors.

Munjendje said the Steinhausen Swapo Party district office, under which Witvlei falls, was instructed to find out what progress has been made with the investigation, and also about the allegations of disunity.

He said the party's regional office would only intervene if the local branch and district offices failed to deal with the issues satisfactorily.

Meanwhile, acting Witvlei CEO Jan Strauss, who was brought in to assist while Murangi's case is being finalised, says the investigation against the CEO continues.

Strauss said the council's former financial manager, Magdalena Oaes, was brought back to assist with the investigation, something that baffles many Witvlei residents, as Oaes simply could have been summoned to testify.

The position of Oaes, who allegedly resigned as she did not see eye to eye with the suspended CEO, was not advertised before she was reinstated and Strauss said she would leave the employ of the local authority once Murangi's case was finalised.

The Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) allegedly also sent an investigating team to Witvlei last year but their findings have not been made public.

The Namibian earlier this year reported that during Murangi's time 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.

Meanwhile, Strauss also denied allegations that he had awarded himself a tender to act as a consultant for road maintenance at Witvlei.

"I have no personal interest in that tender and the tender for the road maintenance work has not been awarded yet," he said.

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