Namibia: COVID-19 - Authorised Officers Must Consult Leadership

Walvis Bay — Cabinet has directed that all authorised officers, including regional councillors, appointed in terms of the National Disaster Risk Management Act, are now required to consult the national leadership before taking any decisions linked to the Covid-19 response interventions.

Information minister Peya Mushelenga made the announcement yesterday after Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge had ordered the temporary closure of a transport company and local bank branch visited by a truck driver who tested positive for Covid-19.

Mushelenga yesterday said Ipinge acted outside the scope of his powers when he ordered a temporary closure of FP du Doit and Standard Bank Walvis Bay main branch on Tuesday.

"The maintenance of public health during the period of Covid-19 remains a government priority and it has been demonstrated. All measures taken to curb the spread of pandemic are taken after due consultations with all stakeholders, and on technical and health advises by the health authorities. Given the fact that the pandemic is national, measures must be taken nationally for similar situations to ensure consistency," said Mushelenga, who added authorised officers will now have to consult the National Disaster Risk Management Committee, prime minister and health minister to ensure proper coordination of all activities and measures aimed at dealing with the pandemic.

"Government shall take the necessary measures to ensure that powers granted in terms of the Act are exercised with circumspection and within the letter and spirit of the law," the information minister said. However, Mushelenga's statement was not well received by local pressure group the Affirmative Repositioning movement who defended the actions of Ipinge. "Instead of focusing on Covid-19, particularly given the daily increasing cases, politicians are busy with competition and power struggles.

The people of Walvis Bay are not concerned about power struggle - they are happy that a 34 years old councillor has acted timeously and decisively to protect them," AR leader Job Amupanda said in a statement.

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