14 September 2017

Namibia: Acting Ohangwena CRO to Sue Council

Ongwediva — The acting chief regional officer (CRO) of Ohangwena, Fillipus Shilongo, is suing the council for failing to employ him as CRO, despite recommendations from the interview panel after he emerged as the highest scoring candidate in interviews held in Windhoek two years ago.

Instead, the Public Service Commission (PSC) wants to appoint the candidate that came third on the scorecard, Eline Nghiitikwa, on the grounds of affirmative action, despite a whopping gap of 26 points between Shilongo and Nghiitikwa, who scored 67 percent, New Era was told.

This was apparently done despite the fact that at no point was the affirmative action consideration mentioned during the recruitment process or consented to by full council.

It is also alleged some councillors have written two letters to the PSC to have Nghiitikwa recruited, a move which is said to have influenced the PSC decision.

The letters apparently caused Shilongo's marks to be reduced from 93 percent to 83 percent to close the gap between the two candidates. The disclosure is cited in a letter from Shilongo's lawyers in January to the chairperson of the regional council, Erickson Ndawanifa, and the human resource officer, Hafeni Nghifimule.

Although the matter has not been brought before court yet, Ndawanifa confirmed that he has been furnished with papers from the lawyers from one of the concerned candidates. "But at this point we cannot disclose further details because the outcome is still strictly confidential," Ndawanifav said.

New Era understands the case has since been forwarded to the Office of the Prosecutor General.

Meanwhile, it is alleged the council is split on the issue, with three councillors accused of being at the forefront of having Nghiitikwa appointed as CRO, while the remaining eight back the decision of the PSC.

Ndawanifa also came to the defence of the councillors, saying the decision taken at council level was unanimously agreed upon. The letter addressed to council further states that the delay in appointing Shilongo was intentional, for reasons known only to the council.

"It has been alleged that from the get-go the process of recruitment for the position of CRO has been stained with procedural irregularities, as well as illegal and unlawful conduct on the part of the councillors and laced with favouritism and nepotism.

"To begin with, there [is an] inexplicable period of nine months between the vacancy arising and the commencement of the recruitment process. It has been alleged that for reasons only known to council, this delay was intentional," the letter further read.

Meanwhile, council's process of appointing a CRO has been halted pending the outcome of the review proceedings.

Contacted for comment, Shilongo said he was not at liberty to discuss the matter with the media. "Where did you get that communication in the first place? Ask those that gave you the letter," he quipped before hanging up.

Ohangwena Regional Council has been without a CRO for almost three years now.

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