Windhoek City Police Chief, Abraham Kanime, remains suspended despite Wednesday’s intervention by President Hage Geingob who ordered that he be reinstated and charges against the Chief Executive Officer, Robert Kahimise, be dropped.
This comes amid revelations that City of Windhoek (CoW) corporate legal advisor, Ben Ngairorue, had written to the council last month suggesting that Kanime’s suspension be lifted, but the opinion was allegedly rejected by Mayor Muesee Kazapua.
Interestingly, Kazapua welcomed this week’s intervention from the president.
“The president invited us to give a directive, and obviously when the president of the country has spoken and has given you a directive, you just need to go and implement it as the president has said it,” he was quoted as saying by The Namibian.
Sources at the council said Ngairorue wrote on 15 January to Ludwig Narib, who was the city’s acting chief executive officer at the time when Kahimise was on suspension.
In the letter, he said there are no compelling grounds to keep the Head of City Police on further suspension given the fact that the investigation has long been completed and the disciplinary process has commenced without any incident of potential labour unrest or interference with the witnesses.
“The power to suspend and lift the suspension is discretionary in terms of the Police Service Regulation and can be exercised by the Chief Executive Officer.
“For the reasons advanced, I advise that the Chief Executive Officer lift the said suspension of Chief Kanime and allow the ongoing disciplinary process to be dispensed with,” Ngairorue wrote.
Kazapua professed ignorance when asked about Ngairorue’s LEGAL opinion.
He told the Windhoek Observer on Thursday that the City of Windhoek council will meet sometime next week to look at ways on how Kanime’s reinstatement will be implemented within the confines of the law.
“Obviously legal advice has to be sought. Procedurally the city council has to meet so that we can discuss how to implement the directive. The decision [to reinstate and drop charges] will be taken after that meeting,” the mayor said.
Kanime has been on suspension since March 2017 on allegations of misusing public funds when he paid legal fees with city funds for a law suit against the municipality because he claimed it had allegedly failed to support the City Police in carrying out its mandate.
His boss, Kahimise, was suspended in October last year for allegedly by-passing procedures when his study loan of €31,650 (N$534,203) was approved only by the former Chairperson of the Management Committee, Mathew Amadhila, on 21 February without the knowledge of the other councillors.
The issue was discussed in a management committee meeting on 11 September; six months after the first instalment of N$149,000 (€10,045) had already been paid. Council members who had not been consulted as per the regulations, objected.
Kahimise was then suspended and reinstated by the City council twice.
After reinstating him on 25 January, the council sought to suspend him for a third time, but Kahimise won a stay in suspension proceedings after he brought an urgent application before High Court Judge Claudine Claasen.
City of Windhoek management committee Chairperson, Agatha Iiyambo, told the Windhoek Observer that council had not engaged Kanime or Kahimise’s lawyers since the president expressed his concerns.
“There is nothing that we have done so far because the directive just came yesterday (Wednesday). We will look into it next week because there are processes that we need to follow before we do anything.
“We will have management committee meeting next week where we are going to discuss the matter then we refer it to the council to take a decision,” Iiyambo said.
Contacted for comment, Kanime said he remains suspended as no one had told him otherwise.
“Maybe they are still coming,” he said.
Reacting on the presidential intervention, PDM councilor, Ignatius Samba, who was part of the councillors who were against the suspension of Kahimise, thanked Geingob for taking a “bold step” to bring “order” to the city.
“I hope that things will improve and the whole council will concentrate on the key mandate to implement the basic services to our residents,” Samba said.
The directive by the president received mixed feelings from the public with human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe arguing that the president does not have the power to order the council to reinstate Kahimise and Kanime.
In a statement, State House, however, contended that, “the remarks by President Geingob, an ardent defender of the rule of law, in line with his Oath of Office, should in no way be interpreted as a directive for the rule of law to be flouted.
“In fact, the President within his moral authority and guidance emphasized in the meeting that ways should be found, within the confines of the law, to bring an end to counter-productive suspensions.
“President Geingob believes that housing is central to human dignity and is committed to eradicating informal settlements. He is of the strong conviction that the energies of the City of Windhoek should be directed at these urgent questions, and not infighting,” State House clarified in its statement.