Free rein for town councils

18 August 2017 Author  
Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa, has washed her hands of the “corrupt” Usakos Town Council after it emerged that management has ignored a directive she gave to dissolve an illegal department of Corporate Services,
Economic Development and Urban Management that the Council has allegedly established.
Speaking in an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week, a clearly angry and frustrated Shaningwa said she does not have time to run around fixing municipality problems as she has duties of her own within the ministry.
“The mistake that people are making is to believe that I am here to run municipalities. It is not my duty. One thing I do not tolerate is people who do not follow structures. I cannot go to every municipality and put out fires. I advise where I can and the rest is up to them,” Shaningwa said.
“I am a minister and I also have a ministry to run.  The people at the town council have a responsibility and they should adhere to that responsibility,” she said.
The minister was responding to enquiries regarding a letter she sent to the Usakos Town Council earlier this year in which she instructed management to dissolve the illegal department.
 The Windhoek Observer is in possession of a letter Shaningwa wrote in February this year to the Mayor of Usakos, Akser Mwafangeyo, instructing him and his council to dissolve the department they had established without notifying her first.
In the letter, Shaningwa wrote that the council’s actions were not only illegal, but also a waste of scarce resources.
Shaningwa wrote the letter after she had received reports from within the municipality alleging that the council had created the new department while the Chief Executive Officer was on suspension, and that the department supposedly benefited one person.
It was also alleged that the town council had advertised the Human Resources Officer (HRO) post with the minimum requirements of a Diploma in Human Resources Management, but that the council had recruited Manfreidt Weskop who did not possess the required qualifications.
The council is also alleged to have changed the post from HRO Grade C, to HR Practitioner Grade D.
 “If this is true, this is tantamount to corruption and nepotism thus the appointment must be revoked and the recruitment process must be redone in a transparent and objective manner,” the letter from Shaaningwa reads.
Six months down the line, sources say the town council is still to adhere to the minister’s demands as  Weskop remains on the town council’s payroll and the illegal department is still running, 
However, according to Mwafangeyo, the council only planned to establish the department, but it was never established and everything is still on paper.
“Whoever informed the minister was not honest, they were plans to create the department, but it did not happen. Plans are still there, but everything is still on paper,” Mwafangeyo said.
He added that they had agreed to create the department because they currently only have two departments which are stretched.
He said creating the new department would lessen the load.
The mayor rubbished claims that they had recruited a less qualified HRO, arguing that they had changed the minimum requirements because the people shortlisted initially had the qualifications, but did not pass the interviews.
Mwafangeyo further claimed that the only reason people were complaining about the HRO was because when the CEO resumed duties after his suspension, it was the new HRO who alerted council that his (CEO) contract was coming to an end, thus the council had to make a decision on the way forward. In his view, this made the CEO angry because he had not planned to notify the council.
“The CEO only started investigating the HRO after that notification. He just has a bone to chew and that is why he is creating all this commotion.”

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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