A vote of no confidence to dislodge the Windhoek municipal management committee is set for discussion tonight at an ordinary council meeting.
If Affirmative Repositioning (AR) councillor Ilse Keister has her way, the country’s biggest municipality will not only be without a substantive CEO, but without an MC too, at least for the next coming weeks.
This possible leadership void, pundits say, adds insult to injury, at a municipality living from hand to mouth.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said the city has been reduced to a bickering theatre, as opposed to a basic service delivery institution.
He blamed opposition parties running Windhoek without a clear mandate.
“They don’t have a clear mandate to improve where Swapo has failed. This makes them worse than Swapo. That is the theme we are getting wherever the opposition are leading,” Kamwanyah said.
At best, he said, the city is on autopilot as land delivery, housing and sanitation is now a farfetched dream for most residents.
“We have seen two opposition mayors; Windhoek has descended into chaos. All residents get is drama, not services,” he continued.
Should the vote succeed, it will have negative ramifications on the city’s operations, he said.
“There is no CEO. If there is no MC, it means two structures entrusted with implementation will be empty. That will cause a serious leadership vacuum,” Kamwanyah said.
Agreeing with him was political scientist Rui Tyitende, who is equally worried about the “mess”.
“It is worrying. When they campaigned, they promised to defeat Swapo and deliver urban land. Now we cannot point to any significant development. All we see is perpetual infighting.”
The residents will judge the municipal council harshly, if it does not get its act together, he warned.
“As residents and citizens, we are observing and there will be serious political ramifications.”
Windhoek is technically insolvent, its only lifeline being a N$200 million overdraft facility that allows it to go from month to month.
City employees and councillors are known to pocket hefty perks, while residents carry the cost. In some instances, employees earn up to 600% more than their peers in the market.
Official data indicates that the municipality is sitting with a cumulative loss of N$3.2 billion, N$300 million wage bill, N$100 million annual employee vehicle scheme, N$70 million losses on bus services and a lifelong post-retirement medical aid scheme.
Last year, the municipality’s losses amounted to N$480 million. This takes the total losses to N$3.2 billion in the last decade.
Last month, Keister moved a motion of no confidence in the Independent Patriots for Change-dominated MC.
She cited gross incompetence and external interference on the part of IPC.
Recently, she wrote to Windhoek acting CEO O’Brien Hekandjo to get assurance that her motion will go unhindered today.
Keister wants Hekandjo to read out the motion in full.
In the said motion, Keister did not mince her words. The current MC inspires no confidence in the municipal council, in particular, and Windhoek residents in general, she said.
She set the wheels in motion in terms of Rule 19 (2).
The politician said at the level of council, the implementation of resolutions is zilch while questions posed by councillors to the MC fall on deaf ears.
“As a result of this failure by the MC, residents remain despondent and form an impression that council is unable to execute its duties,” Keister asserted.
She also accused the MC of unfair labour practices it purportedly metes out to some employees.
Keister was also at pains that the current MC is dominated by the IPC, which, according to her, has exposed the entire council to external, unelected forces.
At present, the MC is composed of four IPC councillors and one from the Landless People’s Movement.
“This basically means that the MC is not run by members of council as per the provisions of the Act but by external political interest. As a case in point, 99% of the members of the MC are currently under several restrictions in terms of how they preside over specific matters,” she revealed.
According to laws governing local authorities, a mayor or deputy mayor or chairperson or vice-chairperson shall vacate their roles if the local authority council resolves by a majority of all its members that it has no confidence in them.
At the time, MC chairperson Ndeshihafela Larandja was unfazed by Keister’s move.
She said the MC is being punished for refusing to bend to demands to go ahead and recommend a new CEO, against its position that the recruitment process is flawed.
“AR is against the decision taken by the management committee to start the recruitment process afresh. I am seeing this as the last option or resort to counter the MC decision and the instruction I have given to the acting CEO to implement,” Larandja said last month.
She continued theorising: “If they happen to remove us, [they are going to] review our decision and go ahead with the appointment of the recommended candidate amidst the irregularities in the appointment process.”