20 June 2019

Namibia: Gobabis Bosses Exposed

Eight executives and managers at the Gobabis Town Council each earn between N$860 000 and N$1 million, despite concerns of widespread incompetence and continued complaints of poor service delivery from residents.

These details are contained in a report compiled by Gobabis Town Council chief executive Ignatius Thudinyane, and presented to the council in February this year.

Thudinyane produced a 180-days in office assessment - from 2 July 2018 to 31 December 2018 - revealing the challenges, successes, weaknesses and possible improvements.

He, however, declined to comment on the report when asked by The Namibian yesterday.

Thudinyane's report paints a damning picture of the affairs of the council, including allegations that some of the highly paid executives are incompetent, disregard him, lack leadership skills, and have failed to detect the loss of millions.

The report has since been swept under the carpet.

In fact, the chief executive has recommended in some cases that some officials be sacked.

This has not gone down well with the political players at the town.

Sources at the council said the councillors - mostly Swapo politicians - appear to dismiss the CEO's findings, and threatened to sue him for allegedly revealing details of the highly paid executives.

According to his report, the executives earned as follows per year: chief executive (N$946 000), executive for technical services Johannes Endjala (N$997 600); executive for economic development Patrick Mbala (N$986 000); while the executive for finance, Filemon Makili, got N$947 000.

The executive for human resources and corporate services, Frieda Shimakeleni, earns N$910 000. The report said she is one of the few executives qualified for her job.

Shimakeleni declined to comment.

It's not only the top executives who are earning big money at one of the most poorly managed town councils in the country, and which continues to consistently receive a failed report card from the auditor general.

The managers earn as follows: manager for electrical services (N$871 000), manager for civil services (N$870 000), manager for finance (N$920 000), and the human resources manager N$857 000.

Most of the executives are likely to earn close to N$1 million each if they receive their salary increments next month.

Thudinyane, however, highlighted that the executive for technical services does not come up with initiatives, has poor supervision skills, and does not command the respect of his subordinates.

The CEO stated that the management of the technical department was poor at implementing council and management decisions, while customer queries have been unattended to for years.

"Poor supervision of projects. No proper record-keeping of land allocations, resulting in double allocations. Many contractor disputes, costing council dearly," the CEO said.

According to the report, the executives disregard instructions from the CEO.

Endjala, the department's head, declined to comment.

"I heard about the report, but it was never presented to me formally. And about my salary, ask the human resources department for verification," he added.

Thudinyane said the executive responsible for economic development, Mbala, is out of his depth since he is only experienced in urban planning.

The CEO said that department lacks effective communication, lacks supervision, shifts blame continuously, and disregards him.

"Town is dirty, and refuse dump is unmanaged. Health portfolio poorly run, and environmental issues not attended to," the town's chief said.

The report stated that although the finance manager had shown enthusiasm for the job, he does not possess the skills and competencies, and "cannot sufficiently express himself orally or in writing to a satisfactory level for his position".

According to the report, the finance manager also disregards instructions from the CEO, and hardly holds meetings with subordinates.

Some of the issues which point to the incompetence of the finance manager, the report stated, was the poor execution of management council and executive committee decisions.

The operating budget of the municipality was also wrongly executed.

"Council's financial position is in a critical state, but no strategic rescue plan was devised. No value for money assessment, as council pays huge amounts monthly, while no written contract exists," the report states.

"Against the matters raised in this report, there is no justifiable reason to still keep the SE (finance) in this position. His removal is long-overdue," the report stated.

Makili did not answer questions implicating him and his department when asked by The Namibian yesterday.

"I am in a meeting," he said.

The Namibian reported in 2014 that a new pay structure dictated that the chief executive officers of municipalities such as Gobabis, Grootfontein, Keetmanshoop, Tsumeb and Okahandja should earn a starting annual salary of N$445 000.

Apart from Thudinyane's report, residents at Gobabis have also complained about poor service delivery from the council. A group of concerned residents from that town petitioned the chief executive officer on 7 June 2019, complaining about the unfair allocation of land for housing.

According to the petition, the municipality's housing scheme has only benefited some property developers and a few individuals "that up to date did not develop any land in town".

Residents have also complained about the lack of development at the town, despite paying high rates and charges on basic services.

Urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga told The Namibian yesterday that "there is no justification for high salaries when there is no service delivery".

He said there were no regulations on how much the executives at local authorities should earn since the law allowed staff members to determine their salaries.

"It's only in the amendments of 2018 that it was stated that the local authorities may, after consultations and with the approval of the minister, approve the remuneration packages of the chief executive and other staff members," Mushelenga explained.

He added that all local authorities in Namibia and the packages for their executives were already in place by then.

Gobabis mayor Libelius Kalili did not comment on the report, saying he was not mandated to respond to media queries.

The municipality's spokesperson, Fredrick Ueitele, yesterday confirmed that the report was submitted to management in February this year.

He said the town council refused to discuss and/or act on the report "because it involves terminating people's contracts", which could have legal implications for the municipality.

Ueitele added that the council has since asked for a legal opinion on how to implement the recommendations in the report.

"The report contains several matters relating to people's personal lives, so the council opted to get legal advice before acting on the recommendations," he said.

Ueitele, however, rejected the salary structure of the strategic executive managers, saying it was not reflective of the reality.

"The salary structure presented in the report is not from the Gobabis municipality. It is just that I am not in town at the moment, otherwise I could have provided you with the correct information regarding the salaries," he said.

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