Namibia: Cold War Brewing Between Grootfontein CEO, Mayor

21 September 2020

GROOTFONTEIN'S chief executive officer, Kisco Sinvula, says a sour relationship has developed between him and the town's mayor, Absai Haimene.

This, he says, has resulted in council meetings not taking place for months.

Sinvula in a press statement released last week said when he visited the office on 1 March this year, he found the council in an "appalling state and total disarray".

He said he found the governance structure of the council compromised as two centres of power existed between the office of the chief executive officer and that of the strategic executives.

He said staff members' work ethic was appalling.

"Realising the dangers of the above, I made it clear that such corporate culture and destructive tradition . . . were not going to be condoned and tolerated by myself as accounting officer . . . " he said.

STAND-OFF

At his first council meeting on 16 March, Sinvula said the management committee recommended the withdrawal of charges against three municipal employees based on allegations of gross misconduct.

However, the council resolved that rules must be adhered to and that the charges should proceed in line with the Local Authorities Act.

Sinvula said his office had appointed SEENA Labour Consultants as an independent firm to handle the matter, and that he drafted a letter in April, which the mayor had to sign, requesting ministerial designation of an individual to investigate allegations against the strategic executive, Ileni Hainghumbi - with no response to date.

" . . . this has rather resulted in a stand-off between the mayor and myself," he said.

He said the apparent cold war has resulted in the municipal council not being able to constitute ordinary council meeting quorums.

Haimene was not available for comment before going to print.

Sinvula also addressed claims that he illegally appointed his personal assistant.

"All council proceedings were recorded on audio and are available for verification upon request," he said.

Sinvula also said his company, KnC Investments, and the council entered into a public-private partnership, which was formed in 2017 before his appointment.

" . . . at my very first council meeting I declared my interest in such a company and requested the council to approve my exit from the company by disposing of my share interest to anyone with a keen interest in the PPP project," he said.

Sinvula said approval was granted by the council, signed off by the mayor and witnessed by the deputy mayor.

The council has been plagued by corruption and division which last month caused senior staff members to write to the Ministry or Urban and Rural Development, pleading for intervention.

The staff members in the letter claim "power cliques" exist within the council, who are enriching themselves and their cronies.

They also claimed town neglect.

Last year, former minister of urban and rural development Peya Mushelenga ordered an investigation into the municipality's affairs.

Executive director of urban and rural development Nghidinua Daniel last month said they are still finalising the investigation.

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