By: Justicia Shipena
Four Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) members of the management committee at the City of Windhoek have threatened legal action against the council should it execute a special meeting on a vote of no confidence.
A council meeting on Wednesday evening has seen the council setting a special meeting for Friday to discuss councillor Ilse Keister’s vote of no confidence in the management committee.
The management committee is led by IPC’s Ndeshihafela Larandja, with three IPC councillors – Jürgen Hecht, Bernardus Araeb, and Ottilie Saarty Uukule, and LPM’s Ivan Skrywer, make up the rest of the unit.
A letter demanding the cancellation of the meeting on behalf of the quartet through Kahengombe law chambers states that rule 19 (1) of the standing rules which Keister moved the motion runs contrary to the provisions of the local authority Act, 23 of 1992.
The lawyers argued that the standing rule does not provide for the lumping of persons together and only allows for the introduction of a motion against individual management committee members.
The letter dated 11 August further said the motion of no confidence in the management committee introduced by Kiester relies on standing rule 19 (1), which is misguided.
It is further the instruction of the IPC councillors’ lawyer that the council intends to convene a special council meeting with less than 72 hours’ notice.
“In the circumstances, the intended meeting is unlawful for the above reasons and more so that the meeting was not properly convened and in essence denies our clients their constitutional rights to a fair hearing as contemplated by Article 18 of the Namibian constitution,” it reads.
Furthermore, the letter also advised the council to act following the rules of justice and give persons affected a fair opportunity to prepare and make meaningful representation before any decision is taken.
“The standing rule 19 (4) contemplates that our clients must be given an opportunity to make representation to the council on the motion of no confidence in the management committee; in this instance, we advise that such representation must be informed.”
They also claim that they were denied an opportunity to understand the misconduct and incompetence allegations against each of them “as they have been lumped together, which as we have indicated is contrary to the Act and thus cannot make representations meaningfully to the council.”
They add that the council should not proceed with its ‘unlawful and irregular special meeting’ or the quartet would seek an urgent interdict at the City’s cost.
“IT CANNOT BE ALLOWED” – MURD SPEAKS
Urban and rural development deputy minister Natalia Goagoses says a council cannot be run without a management committee.
“A council may not run legally and procedurally without the existence of the management committee. These structures are there to inform and operate in unison. Resolutions on what can a council take, is it not coming through the management committee?” she questioned.
She added that the management committee is an essential structure in any given local authority setup.
“Especially a municipality part such Windhoek municipality cannot operate without the management committee. It is unlawful, it is unprocedural, and it cannot be allowed,” she said.
According to Goagoses, the ministry realised there is a disease in the number of local authorities.
“As a ministry, we have given a lot of directives in-service training to local authority councillors. We also realised that maybe this in-service training was not adequate, and as a result, the deputy minister recently visited all 57 local authorities of the country,” she further narrated.
In this light, she expressed that the ministry does not know what to do anymore, and called on the electorates to intervene.
She added that councillors don’t want to co-operate after all efforts by the ministry and the local authority acts that are governing the authorities.
“So the electorates must now tell the government that we cannot impose anything. Then we don’t know whether these people fit those positions. Now the electorate must speak because we have done everything possible.”
She further stamped that the council is there to deliver quality services to the residents and should forget about the party colours when at the council.
However, she revealed that there are several good local authorities.
“We have a number of local authorities in this country who are united, who stick to the law of the local authority act. They are prospering and providing. They do wonders for their residents, but few disappoint the residents. I’m speechless.”
IPC ONLY, NOT ME
Speaking to The Villager on Thursday, management committee member Ivan Skrywer of LPM said he was not consulted and that the letter does not speak to the whole management committee but IPC councillors only.
“So it is very clear that I was not consulted. The letter does not represent me or my interest or anything. I don’t know where this decision came from, I don’t know even who the lawyers are, and I don’t know if this is a party instruction or it is the councillors themselves,” he said.
According to him, each councillor of the management committee will be given a chance to defend why they think the vote of no confidence should not go ahead.
“We will be given and accorded that opportunity to defend, so I don’t know why it is a problem. Because if the council feels that the MC is not executing its resolutions, it is the council that thinks like that. MC must come up with evidence and justify a given point clearly outlined in the regulations,” he stressed.
Skrywer defended Keister’s move, stating that she has the right to table a motion of a vote of no confidence.
“It is not something against the law; it is provided for, and a process must be followed.”
The motion dated 12 July 2022 and signed by Keister states that the current management committee has performed poorly and does not inspire confidence in both council and the residents.
Keister had said her vote of no confidence was motivated by the management committee that deliberately ignores resolutions, and when councillors request answers, there is hardly any answer.
According to Keister, 99 per cent of the current management committee is dominated by members from the same political party, and the members have not shown the ability to lead coherently and objectively.
Keister pointed out that 99 per cent of the management committee members are under restrictions on how they will preside over specific matters.
Keister also said that the recent conduct of the management committee has shown that it cannot be trusted to act objectively and fairly in exercising its powers.
In her motion, she also stated that to restore the terrible labour situation, the council was forced to put all industrial relations matters in abeyance to get to the bottom of the matter.
Further in the motion, she said a new management committee must be elected to ensure that council resolutions are implemented as envisaged by section 26 of the Act and restore the residents’ trust and confidence.
Former city councillor Ignatius Semba said it is impossible for the City to not have a management committee.
“The MC is entrusted with bringing items and looking at them before they finally appear at council,” he said.
Semba, if one looks at the City being run without an MC, it will be a dire and chaotic situation, adding that if there is a vote of no confidence in the committee, these members need to be replaced by ordinary members.
“That can also only happen in early December at an annual elective council. Otherwise, if the people find a vote of no confidence in the MC, it means the City will remain for the remainder of the period without any item coming to council. It means the critical issues of land and so on cannot be discussed until the new management committee is in place,” he explains.
He said this would be a danger to the residents, as the authority act gives a clear mandate to the council.
“The day-to-day running of the council is for the management committee to oversee what is happening at council.”
On the other hand, Semba also argues that getting a new leadership for the MC will be challenging, especially when a council is compromised of various parties.
“It is a whole complex issue. The problem is that a coalition runs the City, and this coalition is not signed between the parties. Partners are not truthful to one another, which gives you a severe problem. The worst is that 2022 to 2023 will be tough because parties are campaigning against each other. Some members will try destabilising the MC to ensure they are not operating,” he adds.
The AR movement and the PDM refused to be part of the current coalition at the City of Windhoek and left IPC and LPM to take leading roles.
In a letter dated 1 December 2021, signed by AR leader Job Amupanda and PDM president McHenry Venaani, the two said they had chosen to remain on the opposition benches to deliver their sacred mandate on behalf of the residents of the City collectively.
However, last month, suspended AR spokesperson Simon Amunime and head of elections Paulus Paulus Kathanga distanced the movement from the no-confidence vote.
They said the AR movement did not sanction any vote of no confidence in the City of Windhoek.
Amunime added that if Keister is interested in tabling a vote of no confidence, she should not use the movement’s name.
IPC spokesperson Immanuel Nashinge argued that the management committee is an organ of parliament and cannot be wished away.