Namibia: Court Challenge for //Kharas Leadership

A RULING on an attempt to have the election of the //Kharas Regional Council's management committee and the //Kharas region's current National Council members declared invalid is due to be delivered in the High Court next week.

Acting judge Collins Parker reserved his ruling after hearing arguments on Friday on whether a case about the legality of the //Kharas regional leadership elections in December last year and April this year should be heard as an urgent matter. The ruling is scheduled to be delivered on 30 June.

In the case before Parker, Namibia's chief magistrate, Philanda Christiaan, minister of urban and rural development Erastus Uutoni, and the Electoral Commission of Namibia's regional coordinator in //Kharas during last year's regional elections, Augustinus Ucham, are asking the court to declare the management committee and National Council elections of the //Kharas Regional Council on 2 December last year as null and void.

They are also asking the court to restrain the //Kharas region's three current National Council (NC) members - Gerrit Witbooi, Anseline Beukes and Jeremias Goeieman - from carrying out any mandate in the NC, and to stop the regional council's management committee from implementing any decisions.

Christiaan says in an affidavit filed at the court that she discovered on 9 April that there were irregularities with the election of the region's leadership.

During the regional elections in November last year, candidates from the Landless People's Movement (LPM) were elected as regional councillors in four of the //Kharas region's seven constituencies. Swapo candidates were elected as regional councillors in three of the region's constituencies.

After the newly elected members of the //Kharas Regional Council were sworn in on 2 December last year, LPM member Joseph Isaacks was elected as chairperson of the council. With no nominations for the two remaining positions on the council's management committee, the presiding magistrate, Unchen Konjore, declared those positions vacant and left the meeting.

Ucham then continued to preside over the election of members who would represent //Kharas in the NC. Witbooi, Beukes and Goeieman - all of whom are also LPM members - were then chosen as the region's new NC members.

Christiaan says in terms of the Regional Councils Act the council's management committee members had to be elected before the council could proceed to any other business. With no management committee chosen at the meeting on 2 December, the subsequent election of the region's NC members amounts to a nullity, she claims.

She also says in her affidavit that the regional council during a meeting on 9 April, which was not attended by the three Swapo councillors, elected Witbooi and Beukes as members of the management committee as well.

This was also an irregularity, Christiaan claims, as the Regional Councils Act prohibits a management committee member from also serving in the NC.

The management committee as it is currently made up is an illegal entity which has not operated lawfully since 2 December, and none of its decisions are binding as they are null and void, according to Christiaan.

The court has also been informed that due to the election of Witbooi and Beukes as management committee members, NC secretary Tousy Namiseb has terminated their mandates as NC members.

Isaacks, who was elected as chairperson of the management committee, questions the alleged urgency of the case in an affidavit also filed at the court.

He further disputes that Christiaan has been properly authorised by the Magistrates Commission to institute the case, and says instead of a review application the court should have been asked to determine what the correct legal position is with respect to the membership of a regional council management committee at the same time as membership of the NC.

Deputy government attorney Jabulani Ncube and Monique Meyer are representing the applicants in the case.

The four LPM regional councillors and the party itself are represented by Gerson Narib and Patrick Kauta.

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