KEETMANSHOOP - The //Kharas Regional Council has once more rejected Urban Minister Peya Mushelenga’s directive to reverse its decision to appoint a deputy director as acting Chief Regional Officer (CRO) instead of appointing the only director at the institution.
Council appointed Benedictus Diergaardt, Deputy Director of Finance as acting the Chief Regional Officer in May, overlooking Director of Human Resources, Administration and Finance, Elizabeth Coetzee, despite her being Diergaardt’s senior and most senior staff member at the council. The council has in the meantime decided to officially charge Coetzee with a host of transgressions ranging from absenteeism from office, insubordination and for awarding a tender against the council’s wishes.
Mushelenga has on several occassions written to council directing them to reverse their decision and instead appoint Coetzee as acting CRO. In June this year Mushelenga gave the council seven days to appoint Coetzee, but the council wrote back to the minister on why they will not appoint her, due to that they are about to charge her. In July, Mushelenga once again rejected the reasons advanced by the council, saying allegations against Coetzee have not been formally made and thus do not hold water.
Council has however stuck with its decision to disobey the minister’s directives, as it cemented Diergaardt’s acting position during a special council meeting on August 2. The council also resolved to officially charge Coetzee. The letter dated 15 August, outlines about eight transgressions allegedly committed by Coetzee, including awarding the Oranjemund school tender, misinforming the council on financial issues, lack of convening meetings and creating animosity amongst staff members.
Council is further accusing Coetzee of not following council instructions to continue with the awarding of a construction tender of the Oranjemund School to Babyface Civils and Henimma Investment, after it was put on hold due to allegations that the tender was marred by corruption. In appointing Diergaardt as acting chief, council chairperson Jan Scholtz also instructed Diergaardt to officially charge Coetzee. “You are hereby notified that your appointment as acting chief regional officer since 1 June 2018 remains unchanged, furthermore you are directed to institute misconduct charges against the director of finance and administration,” Scholtz said in the letter to Diergaardt.
The council further accuses Coetzee of abusing her power and victimising staff members, insubordination and uncommunicated absenteeism from office, disobeying work related orders and embarrassment or unbecoming conduct. “On various occasions, she psychologically abuse and victimise her private secretary, the abuse is so intense that the staff member requested for a transfer to the education directorate, while she also launched an investigation into the approved official trip of councillors without the approval of council,” Scholtz says in the letter.
The council further claims that Coetzee refused to cooperate with the former acting CRO, and continuously referred to him as her ‘junior’, which was a clear sign that she was disrespecting the authority given to him during that time.
“Ms Coetzee on numerous occasions also referred to councillors as corrupt and that we appointed Ucham to further apply our corrupt activities. Against this background, you are directed to charge the director of finance and administration with misconduct as per the attached resolutions as a matter of urgency!” the letter states.
When contacted for comment, Scholtz said: “I cannot comment on that, this is an internal council matter.” Coetzee could not be reached for comment as calls to her mobile phone remained out of reach as of going to print.