3 January 2014

Namibia: No Reinstatement for Suspended Omaruru Councillors

FOUR suspended Omaruru town councillors' hopes to be reinstated in their positions were dashed in the High Court in Windhoek today.

Judge Kato van Niekerk poured cold water over the town councillors' hopes when she dismissed an urgent application in which they were trying to secure a court order for their reinstatement.

She found that the councillors did not have the required legal standing to bring the application. Furthermore, Judge Van Niekerk was of the opinion that the matter did not warrant being heard on an urgent basis.

She dismissed the councillors' application with costs and said she would provide the reasons for her ruling at a later stage.

This setback for the councillors comes after Judge Van Niekerk heard oral arguments on their urgent application on Monday.

Senior counsel Gerson Hinda argued on behalf of the mayor, Vincent Kahua (Nudo), the deputy mayor, Albertus Naruseb (RDP), and town councillors Christiaan Nanuseb (UDF) and Kretencia Garises (RDP) that their suspension was not in accordance with the provisions of the Local Authorities Act.

The Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, suspended the entire seven-member Omaruru Town Council on 16 December without remuneration and until further notice.

At the time, the ministry announced that the suspensions were brought about as a "last resort", because of the council's alleged failure for the past two years to address serious issues of alleged mismanagement as required by the minister.

The Omaruru Town Council is made up of representatives from Swapo, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Nudo.

Hinda has argued that Namoloh "acted unlawfully and unprocedurally" when he suspended the town council.

He argued in written arguments filed at the court that the minister did not illustrate that the council members are unable to exercise their powers and perform their functions and duties as determined and imposed by law.

He also argued that Namoloh failed to give the councillors time to take appropriate steps in order to rectify issues that could have led to the decision to suspend them.

Furthermore, the minister did not give the suspended councillors an opportunity to be heard before they were suspended, Hinda argued.

Moreover, the Minister has not only failed to issue proper instructions before the suspension but as a result of that "has failed to make a determination that the council has failed to comply with the said purported instructions", he argued.

Sisa Namandje, representing the minister, argued that the four councillors were asking the court to order their reinstatement "notwithstanding the fact that three other council members are not part of the application".

He argued that the circumstances and facts which the four councillors cited as far as the urgency of their application was concerned "do not relate to them but relate to other parties that are not parties to this application".

This, he said, is the case even if the application were urgent as the reasons and grounds do not relate to the councillors. As a result, the four applicants did not "prove any irreparable harm in respect of their capacities in which they approached the court".

Their application failed to disclose facts "warranting hearing of such an application on an urgent basis", Namandje argued.

Omaruru councillors to hear fate on Friday

Copyright © 2014 The Namibian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.