A highly classified audit report has revealed some employees of the Grootfontein municipality have been receiving car allowances while they do not even own vehicles. Some council employees have also been fingered in dubious land deals, which has seen some owning land without defined contracts. These are some of the details contained in an explosive audit report following an investigation by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development into the affairs of the embattled local authority.
The Grootfontein municipality is now busy seeking legal advice on how to handle issues raised in the ministerial audit report that has been kept under the wraps since the completion of the investigation last year. “It is very sensitive information, therefore we have to be extremely careful on how we deal with these issues, as it contains serious allegations,” said mayor Lovisa Iyambo.
She told New Era the much-awaited and highly confidential ministerial audit report revealed an array of issues, extending from dubious land deals, mismanagement as well as corruption among council employees and former local authority councillors. “You will find a file indicating that the land is owned under a public-private-partnership, but supporting documents show these plots were in private/residential use,” said Iyambo. She was, however, optimistic that by the end of April or early next month, the municipality will be better placed on the way forward.
“The culprits are known. The majority are still with the council while those who left, will not be spared either, whether abroad or not, they will have to face the full wrath of the law. As new councillors, we will not be pointed fingers at over other people’s ill deeds, hence why we want to conclude and let the transgressors reap the benefit of their actions,” vowed Iyambo. The forensic investigation was carried out by the urban and rural development ministry to look into issues that nearly brought the municipality to its knees. Executive director of the line ministry Nghidinua Daniel also declined to reveal more information, only saying the municipality has been tasked to look at the report and revert with a plan of action and implementation of recommendations contained therein. “At this stage, the report is not available for public consumption. The minister will decide on the next course of action upon receipt of the response from the municipality. In the past months, the ministry commissioned other investigations focusing on land transactions in Grootfontein. This investigation is still underway,” said Daniel in a written response. The report was presented and discussed with the municipality on 19 March 2021.
In December 2020, former management committee chairperson Jack Tsanigab fled with the audit report just when it was about to be discussed. It was only retrieved through law enforcement interventions. A source within the municipality who asked not to be identified told New Era the council is trying hard not to make silly mistakes as they did with previous cases when some employees were suspended. That move later backfired against the municipality. “The whole management still needs to have a collective decision based on the legal advice, its complex issues which we are talking about because if they are not careful, it can lead to lawsuits and prolonged legal tussles which may affect the council financially,” said the source.