Debates rages on Geingob reinstatement directive

Home National Debates rages on Geingob reinstatement directive

WINDHOEK- A political analyst says President Hage Geingob could be setting bad precedence following his directive yesterday that two suspended top City of Windhoek officials be reinstated into their jobs – subject to existing laws.
But in a statement late yesterday, presidential press secretary Dr Alfredo Hengari said Geingib’s directive “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 emphasised in the meeting that ways should be found, within the confines of the law, to bring an end to counter-productive suspensions,” said Hengari.

Local lawyer Kadhila Amoomo – speaking to Nampa yesterday – said the president’s directive to the City of Windhoek could have far-reaching implications. Geingob yesterday called a media briefing at State House where he ordered all Windhoek councillors present to reinstate their Chief Executive Officer, Robert Kahimise and City Police Chief Abraham Kanime with immediate effect.

This, President Geingob said, should be done in accordance with existing laws. 
Kahimise has been suspended back and forth due to allegations that he had received funding from the City of Windhoek for doctoral studies at institutions in Europe without proper approval from council’s management committee for the said study loan.

His suspension has also been largely linked to attempts by some city council members to end the suspension of Windhoek City Police Chief Abraham Kanime, who was suspended by the council in March last year. Geingob ordered council that both Kanime and Kahimise should be reinstated and all charges again should be dropped. 
“If you are going to be serious, we cannot be seated with a divided council. 

We cannot be sitting with people who are expelling and suspending each other day and night. Infightings and so… that’s why I called this meeting. I do not know the laws. I am talking now as President, they are going to interpret the laws,” he reacted. 

He added that the suspensions be suspended so council move on to deal with issues affecting the nation, especially those related to land and housing.

“How are you going to rigmarole suspensions? People are being killed in the centre of the city.  City Police have to do their job, I do not have time to discuss, and this is not a discussion. So, go back and reinstate Kanime and remove the charges from the CEO. I am not a law, go and doctor it. That’s it…finish,” Geingob ordered.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said he was surprised by how Geingob publicly made the directive.
“I don’t know the context yet, but I am kind of surprised the way the president approached it publicly by calling the media and the City councillors telling them directly that these two people must be reinstated,” said Kamwanyah, a newspaper columnist.

“I am wondering what kind of information he is having. But usually, those kinds of things are not unusual that the President gives his views. But usually, it is not done in public. It’s usually instructing people behind doors and say please solve these problems,” he added.

Kamwanyah said this is a different precedence the nation is seeing that the President is setting. 
“Maybe it’s part of the accountability or it could mean maybe he will do it more often. Otherwise, it’s going to backfire on him that people will question as to how come he only do it for the City of Windhoek and not intervene in [regards to] other people. What is that so important about the City of Windhoek? It could be a bad precedent that is being set which is going to hurt the image and impartiality of the President,” he noted.

However, Kamwanyah was quick to point out that all in all “the buck stops with the President”, hence the natural expectation for Geingob to be firm and address issues affecting municipalities throughout the country.
The President’s announcement comes at a time when Kahimise had just succeeded in getting the High Court to halt a meeting where a third attempt to suspend him from his position was expected to be made.

Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua welcomed the President directive, saying when the head of state gives an order or a directive, council must hasten to implement it swiftly.
He said Kanime is expected to be in office today at 08h00.

“I am going back to apply my mind and then take it up from there,” said the youthful mayor.
“As far as we are now, the [squabbles] we have are also causing disputes among our councillors in the City of Windhoek. To me, the directive will bring a solution to the divisions and infighting among the councillors. I want the institution to move forward so we will not have such squabble. We are going to meet all of them and convey the message as per the President’s directive,” Kazapua noted.

Regarding the court cases underway, Kazapua says there is a time where people can withdraw cases through negotiations.

Weighing in on the directive, youthful lawyer Amoomo  said: “It’s an unlawful directive. He [Geingob] doesn’t have the powers to direct local authorities on how to run its affairs.” 
He said the Local Authority Act does not make provision for presidential directives on disciplinary issues of a local authority.

The lawyer further went on to say the President’s directive was not legally binding to the City.

“They can choose to ignore it,” he said, noting that accountability was being compromised.
Another legal expert, Natjirikasorua Tjirera, echoed Amoomo’s sentiments, saying Geingob had no basis in law and in logic to start instructing elected officials of local authorities to undo decisions that they have taken. 

“I am not saying the decisions were sound, but they were taken in accordance with the law and now the President is asking them to be reversed but not in accordance with the law,” he added.
– Additional reporting Nampa