The appointment of a substantive CEO and a strategic executive after two years of political bickering and infighting has earned the Windhoek ‘silent coalition’ a pat on the back.
A resolution to appoint Conrad Lutombi as the city’s CEO and Zurilia Steenkamp as strategic executive for economic development was taken at a special council meeting on Wednesday.
The appointments, analyst Rui Tyitende said, is a step in the right direction. While the political scientist hastened to acknowledge the existence of
alleged irregularities around the process, he noted that it is unjustified for a city
of Windhoek’s stature to operate without a full-time CEO. “The appointment of Conrad Lutombi is a good thing. First of all, you cannot have a leadership vacuum for that long in a city council that is the size of Windhoek,” Tyitende stated. The political commentator added that the ruling party, which for the better part of the last two years observed affairs from the opposition benches, could claim credit for the appointment.
“Swapo could say that because they are now in the management committee, they actually came to the rescue of this protracted conflict amongst the councillors. That’s about the internal squabbles and the bickering between the IPC, AR and the rest of the councillors,” he observed.
He, however, said questions concerning the allegations of corruption around the recruitment process still linger.
“Have those corruption allegations been cleared? What message are they sending to the residents?” he asked.
Agreeing with Tyitende on the leadership vacuum part was Windhoek council management committee (MC) member
Ivan Skrywer, who said “a city of this magnitude ought to have a substantive
CEO.” But that is not why he, alongside other councillors, forged ahead with the appointments.
The issue is bigger than Lutombi, he noted.
“The audit and risk committee of the City of Windhoek issued a stern warning to council that the city runs the risk of becoming bankrupt if it continues operating without a substantive CEO. These are the things we took into consideration because at the end of the day, everything comes down to service delivery,” Skrywer asserted. Windhoek has been without a substantive CEO since the departure of Robert Kahimise in August
2020. Since then, a rotation of acting CEOs among city strategic executives ensued.
“When somebody is acting for three months, how do you hold that person accountable as council? For two years now, these people have been acting, but who do you hold accountable? What targets can you set with an acting CEO? There is no accountability,” the youthful Landless People’s Movement politician said.
Skrywer went on to pour cold water over the corruption allegations hanging over the recruitment process. According to him, it does not make sense that the entire recruitment passed the litmus test of the
MC, just for recommendations emanating from that process to be questioned.
He added that the human resources department also took council into confidence by addressing all the questions which were raised. “In terms of administrative justice,
in my view, there was no gross violation of the [recruitment] process for one to restart the process,” Skrywer said.
This paper also caught up with former Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu to get her views on the Lutombi appointment.
In her eyes, there is nothing extraordinary.
She said Lutombi is an individual who
will form part of a team.
“The attitude of 2 000 employees will not be changed by one CEO. It is teamwork that will make the system work,” a candid Kahungu said. Yesterday, New Era reached out to Lutombi to solicit a reaction on his appointment. He said: “I have learned of the news through media. Therefore, I will [only] be in a position to comment and give my views once I am formally informed.”