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Home / Uutoni urged to address ‘unprocedural’ suspensions

Uutoni urged to address ‘unprocedural’ suspensions

2022-04-01  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Uutoni urged to address ‘unprocedural’ suspensions

Namibian Association of Local Authority Officials’ president Moses Matyayi has called on urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni to address what he termed the “continued unprocedural suspension of local authority CEOs and senior executives.”

The suspensions and reinstatements of local government CEOs and top executives have made headlines in recent years, with the most recent example being the Grootfontein municipality’s CEO Kisco Sinvula, who was suspended late last week. His suspension was declared illegal by Uutoni this week.

“We continue to witness a pervasive trend of unprocedural suspensions of CEOs in the local government sector,” Matyayi wrote to Uutoni this week. 

“The unabated campaign to frustrate, intimidate and victimise CEOs with unlawful suspensions is a blight on the public image of the entire local authority fraternity, as well as on the image of the line ministry as the custodian and overseer of the local authority sector”, he charged.

Local authorities continue to spend money on remuneration for suspended staff, and those in acting positions. 

“The suspension of strategic professionals undermines service delivery and capital project implementation in the local authority sector. We believe this is one of the reasons why the budget allocation to the ministry continued to decline over the last few years,” he added.

Declaring Sinvula’s suspension illegal, Uutoni said the Grootfontein municipality did not consult him before suspending the under-fire CEO, and directed the council to rescind the decision, in a letter dated 29 March 2022, to the town’s mayor and council. 

Sinvula was allegedly suspended after a special council meeting last Thursday over the procedure used to appoint a law firm to represent the council. 

“Your attention and that of the entire council is drawn to section 29(1)(a)(i) of the Local Authorities Act 1992, as amended, which requires a council to first obtain prior written approval of the minister when considering to suspend or discharge its CEO,” said Uutoni in the letter addressed to mayor Talitha Garises.

Uutoni said the Act requires council to first inform the minister of its intention to suspend a CEO before the actual suspension.

Matyayi said the suspensions of CEOs and senior executives clearly demonstrate the contravention of the legitimate procedures as espoused in Section 29 of the Local Authorities Act, 1992 (Act 23 of 1992) as amended, other uniform institutional policies and the principle of administrative justice as enshrined in the supreme law of the country, the constitution.

“Such actions undermine the critical role of the government of proximity closest to the mass of our people. 

It also proves that local government professionals and CEOs are the least-protected employees,” he noted, adding that it also robs local government professionals of the opportunity to serve communities with diligence and peace of mind. 

“It suffices to also entertain the thought that the purported reasons advanced for such unprocedural suspensions remain vague and without substance. It has the inherent tendency to create controversies and lasting negative impressions upon local government as a sector of proximity to the people,” he continued. 

Similarly, such controversies may place a negative aspersion and adverse public perception on the expertise, professionalism and character of CEOs, who continue to work sacrificially hard in the midst of challenging circumstances and precarious local economic environments.

 “Comrade minister, to be honest and blunt about our plight as administrators, we feel left out, and perhaps we can conclude that we definitely are on our own to fend for ourselves against such corporate evils,” said Matyayi.  

2022-04-01  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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