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‘Corruption’ stalls Gobabis, Smallingerland twinning agreement

2022-05-20  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

‘Corruption’ stalls Gobabis, Smallingerland twinning agreement

‘Corruption’ in the eastern town of Gobabis has stalled the town’s 1995 twinning agreement with the Smallingerland municipality in the Dutch province of Friesland, mayor Elvire Theron confirmed.

“The council is busy restoring the twinning agreement the municipality had with The Netherlands. They had withdrawn as there were a lot of corrupt activities happening, but council is actively busy mending the relationship,” she said.

“This is a very important relationship for us as a town as The Netherlands has done a lot of investments and was part of community development projects in previous years,” Theron added.

The municipality is currently also having talks with them concerning the town’s dilapidated water system. Theron said there are new twinning opportunities for the municipality with cities in Japan, Turkey and India. 

The council has been beset with claims of impropriety for years.

“I have not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion,” Auditor General Junias Kandjeke said about the Gobabis Municipality in its 2019 audit report.

The auditors were also unable to obtain evidence to verify the land owned by the municipality. During the previous financial year, adjustments of N$5.1 million were done to the land and appropriation fund balances to reflect the value of land previously excluded from the accounting records. This, however, was not reflected in opening balances brought forward from the 2017/18 financial year.

“The auditors were not provided with a new valuation of all land owned by the municipality and the accompanying valuation methodology and assumptions,” Kandjeke found.

Last August, the town’s management committee approached the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the promotion of a manager into an executive position.

Six officials from the Gobabis municipality were also suspended from the local authority for alleged misconduct. They took the council to court, but lost their case.

The six were suspended in August for allegedly disobeying or disregarding work-related orders, revealing confidential information about council to unauthorised persons, and interfering or tampering with evidence relating to another investigation. 

Meanwhile, Theron revealed that the council is in the process of instituting land audits to investigate all the land bought between 2014 – 2020.  

“Letters were sent out to developers and individuals to enquire about the process of development. We find that there is land that was never developed for about five years. We are in the process of repossessing land to make it available to new possible buyers,” the mayor stated.

On housing allocations, Theron told New Era that the council has land that has been earmarked for men and women in uniform as well as for government employees at the new envisioned Extension 11 in the town.  

Likewise, land has been earmarked for Nossobville low-cost housing behind the Nossobville Primary School.

“It will take about two years to develop the land. The council gave the town planner the drawing of the plans and layout to start the process,” she continued. 

Similarly, bulk services, including the layout at Extension 6 in town, have been completed. However, individual servicing needs to take place. 

“This will cost us a few million dollars, and it is at a standstill due to financial implications. As soon as finances are available, we will start with the individual services and the land will be ready to buy,” she explained.

On another score, the community objected to the process of servicing land at Epako and Nossobville as there were irregularities in the process. 

“Council resolved to take the erven back, and rather sell them to the community.  The process of how it will be sold will be communicated as we want the community to have a fair opportunity to buy the land,” she said. 

Theron said additionally, council has resolved the issue of a truckport, “which will create a lot of employment for the betterment of our livelihoods”. 

2022-05-20  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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