Mushelenga and councillors lock horns over capital budget
Urban and Rural Development minister Peya Mushelenga has slammed opposition councillors at the City of Windhoek for accusing him of failing to approve the municipal capital budget.
The minister has been rapped over the knuckles this week for allegedly being part of the problem at the municipality.
A trio led by Josef Kauandenga is accusing him of playing in the hands of elements within the City Chambers thought to be pushing for the removal of Robert Kahimise, the chief executive officer, in order to put one who can grant them tenders for municipal projects.
According to Nudo-affiliate councilor Kauandenge, Mushelenga has not provided them with reasons as to why the capital budget estimated at more than N$4 billion had not been approved yet.
However, responding to these allegations with this publication, Mushelenga slammed Kauandenge for lying and dishing the public with unverified information.
“First, it is a lie that I have not approved the budget, I already approved this budget last year. If the councillors were unaware they should have first checked with me, with the office of the mayor or with the office of the CEO before they go and make irresponsible and immature utterances,” he said.
He said last year by June the municipality submitted to his office its budget for approval which was stinking with a N$1.5 million deficit.
“Maybe those councillors expected me to approve and rubberstamp what was presented to me. I declined to approve a budget with a deficit of N$1.5 million before the Windhoek Municipality could satisfy me as to where they are going to source the funds to cover the deficit.”
“And I made it very clear because I know in most cases municipalities do have deficits and they put a strain on the ratepayers. So they came back to me, that was the mayor, the CEO, some financial managers, they met me in August”
“But first I wrote to them a letter in July saying they must indicate where they are going to source funds. Then in August, they came to see me where they indicated that, well, if there are no funds they will take out some items from the budget and that that is just the budget that they presented,” explained Mushelenga.
Mushelenga said he was still not satisfied with the answers they gave yet he went on to approve it the first week of December after a November budget presentation.
The minister said his permanent secretary wrote to the councillors about the budget approval and blamed the opposition councillors for not attending meetings where such information was disseminated.
He said they walked out of the meeting.
Mushelenga however disputed that the budget was more than N$4 billion, and although he failed to give the figure off his head, he said he only approved N$23 million of the budget.
As wrangles at the municipality continue raging on, other allegations are that certain top-guns are battling to have tenders thrown their way but were being frustrated by Kahimise.
When confronted by this publication as to what he was doing in connection with these accusations, Mushelenga said he has already asked for the councillors to provide him with proof.
“Remember the councillors wrote an open letter to the minister last year. They have made those allegations. Another allegation is that there were councillors with relatives that were appointed to the City of Windhoek by the suspended Chief of Police. Again I have asked them to provide me with information.”
“They replied to me in writing saying well there are no specific cases but these are talks in the corridors, but you know I can’t act on what you call hearsay evidence. As a lawyer I know that hearsay evidence is not feasible,” he said.