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‘Political’ skirmishes rock Omuthiya Town Council

2023-10-06  Aletta Shikololo

‘Political’ skirmishes rock Omuthiya Town Council

Some local authority councillors in the Omuthiya Town Council are alleging “political intimidation” among council members, which is purportedly used to sway decision-making in the town.

A councillor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said this while reacting to the suspension of Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) councillors Nghipudilo ya Shiindi and Moses Amukoto.

Ya Shiindi and Amukoto were suspended in July by the town’s mayor Johannes Ndeutepo, who represents Swapo in the council.

“I see that as pure political intimidation,” said the councillor.

The two councillors faced suspension on counts of alleged misconduct after they organised an “unauthorised” meeting with residents of the Kaniita informal settlement in Omuthiya in July.

The meeting was allegedly called to discuss the water situation at the informal settlement, where 300 people are living without a secure source of the life saving resource after the town council cut off their supplies because they owed a total of N$450 000.

New Era understands the residents’ only water tap was closed in January until now.

“The process which was used did not conform with the provisions of the Local Authorities Act that when a misconduct is reported, the council has to give the member an opportunity to be heard before they make a decision. If they are to make a decision, there should furthermore be voting, but none of these happened,” stated the councillor.

The councillor said the duo’s meeting was done in accordance with the code of conduct which speaks about the relationship with the community.

“The mayor felt that since it is the IPC councillors who went there, they were supposed to ask for his permission,” added the councillor.

The councillors were suspended for a period of 30 days from 24 July to 23 August 2023.

Amukoto has, however, since returned to work. Shiindi’s suspension is indefinite. 

Documents also show that Swapo councillor Paulus Shimbangala had moved a motion to have Amukoto removed from the council while he was on suspension. 

Approached for comment, Shimbangala refused to say anything on the matter.

In a telephonic interview with this publication, Amukoto described the situation in the council as “disgusting”. 

 “Councillor Shiindi and I were suspended together. I am back from suspension, but she is not. We did nothing wrong as per the Local Authorities Act 23 of 1992,” he noted.

This, he charged, is “disturbing and is politically influenced”.

Their suspension is due to fear because of “corruption committed in our town. So, they are just afraid”.

Coming to the defence of his fellow party member, Amukoto feels Shiindi’s continued suspension is unfair.

Amukoto said Shiindi is on suspension until the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni responds.

“That is bureaucracy, and something should be done. The minister was supposed to act quickly as he is the leader of this ministry,” stressed Amukoto.

Allegations denied

In response to allegations of political influence, the mayor rubbished it all. 

“How are the council’s decisions influenced by politics or intimidation?  If they claim to have done nothing wrong, let them claim (prove) their innocence,” Ndeutepo said.

In no specific terms, he said there are much greater offences as the two councillors have allegedly persistently and continuously violated their oath of office, and acted contrary to the code of conduct for members of local authority councils.

“Amukoto has acted contrary to the code in several respects as per paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of the code. Ya Shiindi is a habitual delinquent, and already has a removal referral pending with the minister. However, he continues to act in contravention of the code in the following respects as per paragraphs 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the code,” said Ndeutepo in a motion he moved in July.

Recently, PDM member of parliament Hidipo Hamata moved a motion where he asked Uutoni about the alleged misuse of power in this council.

He said members were suspended before the council verified and confirmed whether the minutes of the meeting where such a decision was based, indeed indicate that there was a two-thirds majority vote of members present. 

“Is it legally permissible for council decisions, which are in violation of the Code of Conduct for members of Local Authority Councils, to be implemented prior to ensuring that indeed there was confirmation as per the formal meeting minutes that there was such a two-thirds majority vote of members present? In the failure of such adherence, what measures, if any, are applicable to prevent such situations from occurring in the future to ensure due process?” Hamata questioned. Last month, Uutoni requested the mayor to give Shiindi another opportunity to be heard in the presence of a representative from the ministry.

New Era understands that council held a meeting on Wednesday, and Shiindi’s case was among the items discussed.

2023-10-06  Aletta Shikololo

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