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By: Kelvin Chiringa 

The Okahandja municipal council is divided over a N$4 764 589.17 paid out to a company called CEPM using the resolution of the previous council. 

The fight has pitted three councillors from the opposition against a Swapo dominated management committee which green-lighted the payment. 

A complaint letter has been written to urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni by councillors Charl Coetzee, Akser Aupindi and Natasha Brinkman.

The Villager has been informed that the line ministry appointed CEPM in 2016 to work for Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto and Kunene on sewage, road networks, water infrastructure and electricity networks.

An amount of N$6 million was allocated to them for that financial year, with each region assigned N$2 million, The Villager has been informed.

Councillor Aupindi said, “When we came in as councillors in 2020 December, the company wrote a letter requesting us to pay N$4.7 million we owed them. It was challenging for us to pay because we were not there; hence we asked them to come to our office for briefings so we can understand why they were not paid since 2016.”

“They came, and we sat, but they blamed the former CEO, Madam Mutilifa, for not wanting to sign the invoice. In August last year, we called the minister and his deputy to Okahandja for us to get to the bottom of the matter. During their visit, they were also not aware of the matter, and we agreed that they would send a team which was responsible by that time.” 

“This team came with a lot of papers in the form of reports. We discovered that there were a lot of irregularities, dishonesty, integrity issues and false information. We found out that the appointment letter and assumed date were against each other. What is meant is that CEPM started work before the appointment.”

Aupindi said they also found out that the company was paid within the first two days of the commencement of the project.

“We had three different meetings with them and the ministry representative under the leadership of Mr Ngumbai. Early November 2021, we all agreed to send the report to the Attorney General’s office for legal advice. That was the last resolution we had, and the advice is yet to come,” said Aupindi.

To their surprise, he said, in March this year, information came out that N$4.7 million had been paid to CEPM by the municipality. 

Uutoni has been informed that no council resolution was made for this money to be paid out by the current management committee, which the Swapo party dominates.

“There was an attempt to hide the legal matter from some councillors. The said money was transferred without a valid resolution from the council. For some reason, the management committee members, including the mayor and CEO, did not want to hold a council meeting to obtain a resolution, even though they hold a quorum, which can only be perceived as an attempt not to have the process documented. 

An attempt was made to restrict some councillors from obtaining information in this regard,” the trio submitted before the minister in a letter dated the 11th of May 2022. 

They have thus accused the management committee of gross misuse of power and putting the Okahandja municipality’s integrity to question.

The councillors have also told the minister that they caught wind of possible legal action against the municipality from inside sources.

The letter got into the hands of the CEO while the matter was kept from the councillors, they said.

“It was at this point, that the councillors were informed through another source that the funds related to the matter had been paid out of the municipality’s account. The councillors were not aware of any council resolution authorising the release of the funds from the account.

“The councillors, after failing to get answers, addressed a formal letter to the CEO requesting clarity and answers, both on the issue of the legal matter and the transfer of funds, to be presented to council under point 11 of the next agenda as per standing rules point 5(i) in terms of section 14 (6) (b) of the Local Authorities Act No.23 of 1992 as amended,” they said.

The minister has been told that instead of providing direct, simple answers, the chairperson of the management committee, Vincent Kariseb, tendered a motion to attempt to restrict access of information to councillors Aupindi and Coetzee.

They said another attempt to restrict them came via a motion of no confidence in councillor Aupindi, who got accused of obtaining information from staff to be used against councillors.

“It is important to note that all of these attempts to restrict information were made by the management committee members, including the mayor as an ex-officio member. The Hon. Mayor repeatedly overstepped his powers by not awarding Hon. Aker Aupindi had the opportunity to speak on the matter, eventually having him removed from the chambers. 

“Hon. Charl Coetzee then left the chambers on the assumption that the matter will not be treated fairly and that he too would be removed by the mayor should he continue to press the point,” they told Utoni. 

The Villager has also managed to get hold of the motion of no confidence, dated the 1st of April 2022, brought by the management committee chairperson, Vincent Kariseb.

In it, he questions the act used by the councillors “to access the information currently at their disposal or documents which are in their possession about the matter.” 

“Who are the staff members involved in facilitating their unlawful conduct?” he queried. 


We Broke No Law

Kariseb has accused Aupindi of illegally sourcing information from municipal employees behind the back of the MC.

He said, “an institution whereby a councillor runs behind the back of the management committee and sources information unlawfully puts the administration in a predicament, meaning you are sourcing information from the employees rather than going the legal route which is lawfully within your mandate and your power as a councillor.” 

Okahandja CEO Alphons Tjitombo said they received a letter of demand from the contractor with threats to take the council to court. The council implemented the resolution of the previous leadership. 

“The facts on the ground will never change. The council decision or resolution was taken in 2018 for reasons only known to the people in charge, and the payment was never released. The MC only implemented the council resolution in line with their power, duties and functions,” he said.

Councillor Beatrice Kotungondo said the trio’s unhappiness with the N$4.7 million payout is a broader fight stemming from the opposition’s loss of power in the council.

“This is something that we inherited. When you inherit a problem, you cannot come back and blame the previous council. You need to deal with what you are getting at hand. We have a report that shows that clearly work was done.”

“The colleagues sitting with this in-fighting have lost power. They are no longer in power. 

Now that the new leadership has taken over, it looks like a push and pulls. It is now about dirtying the names of the people that are there. It’s just a fight that is going on,” she said.


Okahandja fights lawyer over N$3.9 million

In the meantime, the municipality has also been asked to pay Eliphas Amunyela N$3 931 104 as damages he suffered after the previous council failed to employ him as Strategic Executive for Finance, IT and Asset Management after he came out tops during interviews.

Amunyela applied and was shortlisted for interviews, after which the panel recommended him for the job.

“Gideon Uwu-Khaeb, Helmi Maruru and Hileni Iita wrongfully, unlawfully and corruptly used their offices to obtain gratification for themselves or the gratification of another when they unjustifiably resolved and favoured the appointment of one Pessella Nunda to the position of Strategic Executive: Finance, IT and Asset Management at the expense of our client who was the top/best performing candidate in the interview,” Amunyela’s lawyer, Kadhila Amoomo, informed the current council on the 18th of January 2022. 

The above councillors have since been rounded up and arrested. 

However, Amoomo further told the current council that due to the corruption of the previous council, his client suffered financial losses due to the remuneration he was supposed to have been paid.

Amoomo broke down the losses: N$982 776 per annum, N$982 776 multiplied by four years.

“In the premise, our client has suffered damages for N$3 931 104 due to the unlawful conduct specified above. We, therefore, demand payment of the said amount within 14 days of this demand. Should no payments be received by the lapse of the 14 days, or should there be no attempt to negotiate payment terms by the said period, we hold instruction to institute legal action against the municipality and seek an order for costs,” said Amoomo.

In the meantime, both Tjitombo and Kariseb have said this matter is being fought over in court. 


Kelvin Chiringa

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