Namibia: Govt Says Ipinge Had No Power to Order Closures

Minister of information communication and technology Peya Mushelenga says Walvis Bay urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge acted out of the scope of his power when he ordered the closure of Standard Bank and the FP du Toit Transport depot at Walvis Bay on Tuesday.

Ipinge ordered the two businesses to close following the reported case of a truck driver who tested positive for Covid-19 visited the bank on 12 May.

Cabinet discussed the matter at its meeting on Tuesday and directed that the powers given to authorised officers must be exercised after due consultations with the National Disaster Risk Management Committee and the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Health and Social Services.

"Government shall take necessary measures to ensure that powers granted in terms of the Act are exercised with circumspection and are within the letter and spirit of the law," said Mushelenga.

I-Ben Nashandi, the executive director in the Office of the President, explained to The Namibian that all regional councillors, commanders of police stations, regional directors of education and health were appointed to assist us to perform certain functions in terms of the Disaster Risk Management Act on the 30 March.

"The reasons why they were appointed is because during the disaster risk management there are certain actions that require to be undertaken on the advice of the people. One of them that is critical that prompted us to have those appointments was to facilitate the issuing of travel permits during the lockdown stage one," said Nashandi.

According to Nashandi, the same act also empowers the secretary to cabinet George Simataa who is the chairperson of the Disaster Risk Management Committee to designate any member of the public to be an authorised officer.

"He can even specify for what reason he is appointing them other than the other powers that are in section 33," said Nashandi. Simataa could not be reached for comment.

AR activist Job Amupanda in a statement issued yesterday claimed that national leaders are jealous of the 34-year-old councillor whom he says is performing well compared to government.

"It is unfortunate that politicians in Windhoek are busy with sound bites of power and politics with regards to activist Knowledge's decisive leadership to order closures that have been well received by the culprits. Instead of focusing on Covid-19, particularly given the daily increasing cases, politicians are busy with competition and power struggles," said Amupanda.

Political Analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah told The Namibian yesterday that although the councillor might have acted out of national interest, it was not in his place to order the closure of businesses.

"What Knowledge did is wrong because he does not have that power, but I think it was necessary for him to act. It was good for him to act in a situation like this. He had to act in the national interest," said Kamwanyah.

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