By: Frans Sinengela
The constant suspensions of municipality CEOs and administrative officials have hampered the service delivery process in local authorities.
These were the views of PDM member of parliament Johannes Martin, last week.
He said the plight of CEOs and administrative officials who suffer from career and reputational damage is worrisome. Martin claimed that local authority councillors have a trend of unprocedural suspension of CEOs, either frustrating, intimidating or victimising.
However, according to Martin, local authorities continue to spend money remunerating those on suspension and acting positions.
Martin further argued that the suspensions lead to a management crisis which results in poor service delivery and implementation of capital projects.
According to him, several local authorities operate with CEOs on suspension or administrative leave.
“The Stampriet CEO passed on while he was still on suspension. May his soul rest in peace; in early March 2022, the Grootfontein CEO was reported to have been unlawfully suspended, and the Karibib CEO was mistreated and has now been put on leave. The Oniipa CEO was illegally suspended. The senior staff at Gobabis continues to be on a prolonged suspension without appropriate charges; the Walvis Bay CEO is suspended; the acting CEO and the finance manager remain suspended. Keetmanshoop CEO was unlawfully placed on administrative leave; the Orangemund CEO remains suspended,” lamented Martin.
According to Martin, local authority CEOs and professionals are the least protected employees, and at the same time, the line ministry as the custodian and overseer of the local government sector is failing to manage and regulate the functions/operations of the local authorities.
Martin also said most local authorities are captured by well-connected business personnel who use their power of influence to dictate the town’s day-to-day operations.
He said they take advantage of incompetent councillors, some of whom are illiterate and do not often have a clue of what the local authority act says; and then end up signing or agreeing to what they have no understanding of, leading to failure in execution of their mandates to the detriment of the electorate.
Martin further claims that political leaderships are made up of local businessmen and women who are just there to drive their business agendas in most local authorities.
“Most of these political leaders are behind the suspensions of CEOs and council officials for their benefit,” he said.
However, Martin came under fire from LPM parliamentarians Henny Seibeb and Bernadus Swaartboi after he mentioned the Keetmanshoop CEO, Desmond Basson, who, according to him, was unlawfully put under administrative leave.
“You are talking nonsense now! Nonsense, nonsense! Stop talking about things you do not know or understand,” said Seibeb and Swartbooi.
Aggressive shouting and interruptions from Swartbooi and Seibeb almost caused chaos.
Martin called on the urban and rural development ministry to increase financial support to local authorities for them to be able to perform their mandates.
He said that local authorities fail to carry out their mandates due to unnecessary infights among municipal officials, which leaves service delivery in chaos.
Pointing to the local authority act 23 of 1992 and the regional council act 22 of 1992, respectively, Martin said that it was time for the National Assembly to reflect and measure the performance of the local government in addressing the socio-economic development of citizens to uplift their living conditions.
“Thirty years down the line, our local authorities are still faced with various challenges that cripple the service delivery to our people; this is attributed to the increase in urbanisation and demand for services, especially land and housing delivery, without a corresponding increase in revenue base to support
servicing of land and infrastructural development in local authorities,” he continued.