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Walvis Bay managers tussle over disciplinary hearing

By: Megameno Shinana

There is a fight at the Walvis Bay municipality over who should preside over the disciplinary hearing of two managers who are still being investigated for possible misconduct in light of the mass land servicing project in which N$24 million was initially said to have disappeared into thin air.

Walvis Bay general manager, Agostinho Victor, and properties manager, Jack Manale, through their lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, have disputed the appointment of ENSafrica Namibia for the chairing of the disciplinary hearing involving the two scheduled for the 13th of February 2023.

The duo was suspended in December of 2020 to pave way for an investigation into the mass land servicing project in which N$24 million was said to be unaccounted for at the time.

However, the Walvis Bay municipality, last year, resolved to re-instate chief executive officer (CEO), Muronga Haingura, Victor, Manale as well as property clerk, Connie Summers.

Documents show that Manale and Victor are, however, being investigated for possible misconduct as per the recommendation of a PWC report into the matter.

Although auditors have since established that no money was lost, they have sniffed out discrepancies in the manner in which the project was handled.

In a letter from the lawyer dated the 20th of January 2023, the Walvis Bay acting chief executive officer, David Uushona, was notified that the appointment of ENSafrica was carried through without proper due diligence.

ENSafrica has been accused of bias and consequently, an application for recusal was launched in respect of the duo’s disciplinary hearing.

Agostinho is said to have been notified of the appointment of ENSafrica Namibia as presiding officer in his disciplinary matter and was requested to indicate whether he had any objections.

According to Metcalfe, his client was further requested to show cause why he perceived the company to be biased.

“This perception of bias was clearly set out in correspondence of 22 August 2022 from our office. A copy of the PWC report where ENSafrica Namibia was clearly indicated as the firm of legal practitioners who featured in the PWC report was attached identifying exactly why a perception of bias existed for our client,” said Metcalfe.

ENSafrica was roped in via direct procurement from a list of other entities like Anne Shilengudwa Attorneys, Ellis Shilengudwa Incorporated, Kopplinger Boltman Practitioners and SEENA Legal Consult.

The letter by Metcalfe further shows that the Walvis Bay municipality procurement committee met on the 8th of December 2021 to evaluate the direct procurement.

However, the lawyer has slammed the committee’s meeting minutes as to be grossly inaccurate.

He said that they failed to record that during the said meeting, Agostinho recused himself on the basis that he was an affected person.

He also said that Ellis Shilengudwa Incorporated was substituted for no apparent reason by ENSafrica whilst the latter was not nominated for such work due to obvious problems as they featured in the PWC report as conveyancers who attended to transfers of low-cost housing properties.

The Walvis Bay secretary for procurement has also been accused of misrepresenting Kopplinger Boltman Legal Practitioners as an Erongo-based firm with strong industrial relations representation history.

“Kopplinger Boltman Legal Practitioners are not an Erongo-based legal firm as is falsely averred to by the Secretary – Procurement Committee. Such legal firm is exclusively based in Windhoek which does not resort in the Erongo region,” said the lawyer in his letter to the acting CEO.

ENSafrica is said to have never been nominated by the Walvis Bay Human Resources Department as they are said to have formed part of the PWC audit report.

“It, with respect, appears as if the provisions of Section 36(2)(d) of the Public Procurement Act 15 of 2015 were ignored. Proper due diligence was not done by the Procurement Committee. There are a number of Erongo-based legal firms with a strong industrial relations representation which can supply the same services as Kopplinger Boltman Legal Practitioners.”

“Danie Kotze & Associates, Ugene Thomas Legal Practitioners, and Haufiku & Associates are legal firms who specialize in labour law and who are based in the Erongo region and who were not included in the low-cost housing PWC report,” said Metcalfe.

The Walvis Bay municipality has thus been given seven days to rectify the alleged non-compliance with the Procurement Act failure of which the case will be taken for review in the High Court on the basis of misrepresentation, failing to comply with due diligence, and creating a perception of patent bias.

 

 

Megameno Shinana

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