Frustrated City of Windhoek councillors are demanding that a progress report on the recruitment of the new CEO be submitted in the next council meeting, scheduled for the end of this month.
Councillors reportedly demanded the report from the management committee at a special council meeting held on Wednesday night.
The city has been without a substantive CEO since November 2020 after Robert Kahimise resigned to join Cenored.
The position was advertised, and five candidates were shortlisted for the interviews to present their short- and long-term strategic plans publicly, the first time that city executive candidates were interviewed on a public platform.
The public interviews were followed by a psychometric test. The five shortlisted candidates included NamWater executive Eino Mvula, deputy executive director for administration in the ministry of works Joyce Mukubi, researcher and entrepreneur Charmill Zamuee, Roads Authority CEO Conrad Lutombi and Moses Matyayi, who is the CEO of the Otjiwarongo municipality.
The appointment process has enjoyed massive public interest that also brought some controversy. Lutombi, who scored the highest during the interviews, is allegedly not favoured by the management committee as he is believed to be a staunch Swapo supporter.
According to the minutes of the interviews conducted by the City of Windhoek, Lutombi scored 80%, followed by Matyayi with 74% and Mvula with 71% in the interviews and psychometric tests.
It was recommended that Lutombi be offered the job and should he reject, the position should be offered to Matyayi. If the latter also declines the offer, the position should be readvertised. Leader of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Bernadus Swartbooi at a media conference in November 2021 accused Lutombi of being unpatriotic for “giving” tenders to Chinese nationals. However, Lutombi ridiculed this notion.
“The allegations of un-patriotism and the insinuation that the RA favours Chinese contractors above Namibians are defamatory, false and unfounded.
The RA will continue to conduct its business without fear or favour in a fair and transparent manner to the benefit of all Namibians in our quest to achieve our aspiration of a sustainable roads network, which is ahead of national and regional socio-economic needs in pursuit of Namibia’s Vision 2030,” read a statement from the company in reaction to the allegations.
According to one of the councillors, the management committee has been intentionally delaying the process to enable former CEO Kahimise to qualify so that they can readvertise the vacancy.
“They are not being honest about the process, and they want to hide information from the council. It cannot work like that. We demanded the progress report from them as we already have the human resources’ report that recommends the best candidate,” a councillor, who requested anonymity, said.
Another councillor who spoke to New Era said the actions of the management committee to delay the process is frustrating and affects governance in the city.
“They have been delaying the process, and luckily last night (Wednesday) we managed to reach that subject of the CEO. We demand the report so that we will know the way forward.
They were delaying because the candidate they preferred was not qualified to come back, as the city has a policy that you can only return after 12 months [after leaving].
Now, Kahimise qualifies, and they want the position to be readvertised,” she said. Another councillor claimed that the management committee is not being honest with the council, and it is worrisome.
“It is very worrisome. If we cannot be honest with each other on serious matters like this one, it can’t be correct. They must tell the truth, and the recommended candidates are also waiting,” he said. Swapo councillor Queen Kamati said the matter is before the management committee, and the councillors have no comment on it. “The matter is still with the management committee and as you are aware, Swapo does not sit in the management committee. Hence, we are not in a position to comment on matters that have not been brought before the council,” she added. Contacted for comment, chairperson of the management committee of the City of Windhoek Ndeshihafela Larandja ended the phone call immediately after this reporter introduced herself. Acting CEO Jennifer Comalie said the matter is before the management committee, and she will thus not divulge any information. “I cannot discuss any information as the matter is confidential and is before the management committee. Maybe you can contact the manager for communication,” she responded. City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenye’s phone went unanswered when contacted for comment. The number of deputy mayor Josef Uapingene also went unanswered for two days.