15 April 2019

Namibia: Grootfontein Reinstates Executive

The suspended Grootfontein Town Council's finance executive Ileni Hainghumbi was reinstated last Friday.

Hainghumbi was suspended early in January by the council on allegations of misconduct. He had blasted the council for various irregularities, such as giving preferential treatment to a private company at the town, which was allegedly exempted from paying municipal rates and taxes.

The executive told The Namibianon Saturday that no explanation was given why his suspension had been lifted. "I was only given the letter of reinstatement. Information has it that, after the council sought legal advice, they were told that the suspension was more of a personal vendetta as there was nothing that warranted the suspension," he said.

Hainghumbi said he was not supposed to be suspended in the first place because he had done nothing wrong.

He said during his 20-year-career, he had never been given a warning at work - whether a verbal or a written warning.

"It must be highlighted that the council leadership does not have a problem or any issue with me. But, it is only the acting CEO and the chairperson of the management committee who declared that they would make my work very difficult," he added.

The finance executive further said the councillors never endorsed his suspension since they were on holiday at the time that he was told to go home.

Hainghumbi said it is important for him that the municipality's interests come first, and that he will not at any given time sell out at the expense of residents.

He added that the town needs tarred roads, and they can only be tarred if money is generated from all possible revenue streams.

"The town does not have a cash flow problem at all. What is needed are priorities, coordination and synergy," he said.

He stated that if political interference could be minimised and maximum support given to the finance department, there would be enough revenue streams which can push the town to another level.

"Grootfontein is one of the fast-growing towns in the country. The town has untapped land, and land is one of the council's biggest sources of revenue," he said.

The town's acting chief executive officer, Arnold Ameb, was unreachable for comment. But in a letter dated 11 April 2019 seen by The Namibian, he states that the council decided to lift Hainghumbi's suspension with immediate effect, based on the outcome of the special council meeting held that week.

Ameb further wrote that Hainghumbi was to be reinstated on 12 April.

"Kindly be informed that the investigation is still ongoing, and you will be formally informed thereof," he added.

Ameb said the council believes in a good working relationship, and advised Hainghumbi to follow the grievance procedures for a possible remedy if he feels aggrieved by any particular matter.

"Let my office take this opportunity to welcome you back, and I sincerely hope we will work towards a common goal for the best of the institution," he stated.

Grootfontein has for years been beset by power struggles, cronyism and allegations that politicians and executives formed a cartel to benefit from land transactions at the town.

The Namibian reported earlier this year that a group of senior officials had complained to the urban development ministry about the rife nepotism and corruption at the municipality, as well as the misuse of power and the mismanagement of council resources. Urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga last month ordered a thorough investigation into the affairs of the municipality, including the alleged irregularities.

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