//Kharas leadership ‘Illegal’

Home National //Kharas leadership ‘Illegal’

Lawyers representing chief magistrate Philanda Christiaan, Electoral Commission of Namibia’s regional coordinator in //Kharas Augustinus Ucham as well as the urban and rural development minister Erastus Utoni said //Kharas residents have been deprived of a legally functioning leadership since 2020.

The trio seeks to nullify the 2020 elections of the //Kharas Regional Council’s management committee.

“They do not have a legally functioning management committee to deliver the overwhelming mandate they were granted after the elections in the determination of key policy decisions for the citizenry it should be serving,” said deputy government attorney Jabulani Ncube.

Ncube made the remarks during an oral submission this week in the High Court as they seek a review and set aside elections of the management committee and National Council members of the //Kharas Regional Council. 

They further seek an order directing the election process to start afresh.

The said elections were held on 2 December 2020.  

Ncube argued there is a need to rectify the illegality committed by a public body.

 He said in terms of the law, management committee members should be elected before it can discuss other businesses. 

Thus, he said, magistrate Unchen Konjore, who presided over the elections, should have indicated in the meeting that no other business could take place in the absence of a fully constituted management

“The 13th respondent (Konjore) in this case was remiss in her interpretation of sections 18(2) and 18(4) of the Act. She has an overriding duty to ensure the proper interpretation and application of the law,” said Ncube.

According to him, Konjore refused to bring forth the application under the mistaken belief that she committed no errors during the election proceedings, despite legal advice to the contrary.

Chief magistrate Philanda Christiaan in court documents stated the meeting at which Gerrit Witbooi and Anseline Beukes were elected as members of the management committee was not attended by the three Swapo councillors. 

She further explained the “Regional Councils’ Act prohibits a management committee member from also serving in the National Council”.

In light of this, the elections of the National Council members amount to a nullity, said Christiaan.

However, Gerson Narib, who argued on behalf of Joseph Isaacks, the chairperson of the //Kharas Regional Council, said the Landless People’s Movement and council members Witbooi and Jeremias Goeieman asserted the case is more political rather than legal.

According to him, the matter needs to be sorted out in the boardrooms of the //Kharas Regional Council and the respective political parties who have seats on the council.

“There is nothing in the Act prohibiting a regional council, after the magistrate presiding over the election has left, to conduct any other business of the regional council. In fact, since the magistrate is not a member of the regional council, it makes sense that he or she should not preside over debates or other business of the council,” said Narib.

He further said there is no legal basis to nullify the elections when council members were lawfully elected.

Judge Essi Schimming-Chase postponed the matter to 5 June for the delivery of the judgment.

– mamakali@nepc.com.na