KEETMANSHOOP - While government weighs up the next legal step in the protracted //Kharas Regional Council saga, the governing party in the region says the line minister should stay out of the affairs of the council.
The standoff has left the council in limbo since the election early December last year.
After the seven regional councillors were nominated, elected and sworn in on 2 December 2020, the two political parties represented, namely the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) (four seats) and Swapo (three seats) could not reach a consensus on forming a management committee.
Also, during the swearing in ceremony, LPM nominated and elected councillors Gerrit Witbooi and Anseline Beukes to represent the region in the National Council (NC). The party continued to nominate and elect the two councillors as members of the council’s management committee on 9 April 2021 after which they were sworn in accordingly.
A letter from the NC’s secretariat, however, nullified the process, calling for the termination of Witbooi and Beukes’ membership to the August House.
“In terms off section 18 (4) of the Regional Council’s Act 1992, (Act 22 of 1992) the said members have lost eligibility to be elected and serve as members of the National Council,’’ the communiqué reads.
The section of the Act states, “a member of a regional council who is elected as a member of the management committee of the regional council under this section is not eligible for election as a member of the National Council.” LPM is, however, at this stage still engaging the National Council secretariat on the matter.
In further development, urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni directed the regional council’s chairperson Joseph Isaacks that “no further council and management meetings should be convened until the court pronounces itself on the matter.” This directive comes after the minister filed an urgent application with the High Court “to resolve the leadership predicament at the //Kharas Regional Council”.
Prompted to comment, Isaacks informed New Era that the council regarded the line minister as acting ultra vires (beyond his legal power or authority).
“In terms of law, only the chairperson of a regional council can convene or suspend regional council or management committee meetings,’’ he argued.
Isaacks also said in a court verdict received last week, the matter has been struck from the roll and furthermore that the High Court rejected the minister’s basis for an urgent application.
“Regional council and management meetings in //Kharas region will thus continue undeterred,’’ Isaacks concluded.
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development indicated that the matter is with the attorney general’s office and could not yet say if an appeal would be filed.