1 March 2013

Namibia: Mayor Accused of Neglecting Her Job

SENIOR staff in the Ministry Of Home Affairs And Immigration are accusing Windhoek Mayor Agnes Kafula of neglecting her duties as a civil servant at the ministry and paying more attention to her role as mayor.

Kafula, who became mayor last year, is a chief control officer at the ministry headquarters in Windhoek and is supposed to work from eight to five.

However, a source at the ministry says since her appointment as mayor, she has been spending more time at the municipality.

"A lot of people are complaining because she is never at the office," said the source. "She has to resign one of the jobs, either this one, or go to the municipality. People are not happy here."

Kafula agreed that the current arrangement is not giving her the chance to do justice to either of the jobs, adding that the Association for Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) has taken up the matter with President Hifikepunye Pohamba and former Presidewnt Sam Nujoma. However, she said the issue is not receiving the attention it deserves.

"It is a serious concern and we [ALAN] feel uncomfortable too," she said.

The mayor said the issue is with the Office of the Prime Minister and it might addressed in the reform paper to be finalised this year.

Kafula, who is the president of ALAN, denied that she is doing anything wrong, saying that the Public Service Act allows public servants to be local councillors.

According to the source, the grievances were reported to the permanent secretary of Home Affairs, but nothing was done.

Permanent Secretary Patrick Nandago yesterday said: "It's not a secret that Madam Kafula is the mayor. At times, by virtue of her position, she needs to attend meetings."

"If the issue is to be addressed then it should not single out Kafula but they should question the system which allowed her to do so," he said.

Kafula succeeded Elaine Trepper as mayor at the end of last year.

Trepper agrees that there is a need to make the mayor's position a full time job because the work load is "just too much and non- stop".

She served the council as mayor from 2010 to 2012 and at the same time worked as a teacher. Trepper said she had to "put in an extra shift" to work in both positions.

A storm erupted in local authority circles three years ago following the announcement of an 'idea' by former Regional and Local Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo to appoint executive mayors and management committees as full-time employees. The plan received mixed reactions.

Former Tsumeb mayor Engel Nawatiseb said: "That would be the best move that the government can make. From my personal experience, one needs a full-time person to watch over the affairs to get good output."

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