The Landless People’s Movement says the fact that Windhoek mayor Sade Gawanas received a transport allowance while also using the municipality’s vehicles in violation of the city’s policies speaks to the incompetence of those leading the institution.
This was the reaction by LPM spokesperson Eneas Emvula, after studying the veracity of double dipping claims against their member Gawanas.
As mayor, Gawanas uses three municipality vehicles for private and personal use, while still receiving a monthly transport allowance, it is alleged.
The city’s policy and procedures for councillors’ benefits are clear that using council vehicles and receiving an allowance concurrently is a contravention.
It dictates that a mayor or deputy mayor can either choose to be paid a transport allowance to make use of their own vehicles for official duties, or be allocated official vehicles with an assigned driver. By choosing the municipality vehicles, they give up the monthly transport allowance.
This was communicated to Gawanas soon after she ascended to the city’s most coveted seat in January. She seemingly turned a blind eye.
In LPM’s eyes, however, it is not Gawanas’ fault that she found herself receiving double incentives.
“Any flaw(s) in the implementation process of an institutional policy represents a high level of incompetence of a head of administration in such an institution,” Emvula said on Monday.
He accused the media of blowing the double benefits out of proportion.
Gawanas is the victim, he said.
“It is an issue that the respective strategic executive (SE) seemingly failed to deal with and direct to the administrative superior or SE correctly misinterprets and or felt to instigate the city staff and the general public against the mayor without exhausting internal City of Windhoek communications and consultation processes,” he said.
Ironically, earlier that day, Emvula said the LPM leadership had been aware of the information but chose a cautious approach to avoid direct involvement in the municipality’s affairs.
“But this does not say we have not come across that issue. And that still does not say we are not going to deal with it. We are going to verify if it is contrary to policies of the organisation and the constitution… and also where it leaves us as a party in terms of reputation,” Emvula said in an earlier telephonic interview.
He was referring to recent calls by the urban ministry to political parties not to interfere in local authorities operational issues as it stalls service delivery.
The ministry holds the view that some political parties have turned local authorities and regional councils into battlegrounds for popularity and egos, at the expense of service delivery.
The plot thickens, however.
It now appears the city’s management committee (MC) has deviated from the policy and will allow Gawanas to enjoy both benefits, unlike her predecessors or current lieutenant, Joseph Uapingene.
In a strange twist of events, the Independent Patriots for Change-dominated Windhoek municipal council MC endorsed Gawanas’ use of municipal vehicles whilst concurrently receiving N$9 500 as transport allowance in direct contravention of policy.
Acting CEO O’Brien Hekandjo on Sunday said, “the use of the official municipal vehicle by the mayor is permissible at the discretion of the chief executive officer on such request. The request was forwarded and further forwarded to the MC for condonation, which was granted.”
Yesterday, New Era reported that the city’s top brass were concocting a plan to legitimise the mayor’s double dipping, following internal complaints.
It has come to pass.
The condonation comes six months after Gawanas started to enjoy the irregular benefits.
Several attempts to reach out to Gawanas by city officials and council members to decide on a transport benefit of her choice hit a brick wall.
Over the weekend, Gawanas denied wrongdoing, accusing officials of trampling on her reputation.
“I was using the vehicle for official purposes and not for private use,” Gawanas stated.
She also shared a memo she ostensibly sent to Hekandjo, in which she sought clarity on her transport benefits.
It is dated 6 June 2022.
To date, Gawanas has collected at least N$57 000 in transport allowance from the municipality.
At the same time, the mayor uses three City of Windhoek vehicles – a Mercedes Benz C-Class, a Toyota Fortuner and a Toyota 4x4 bakkie – as well as an assigned driver for official and private use.
Gawanas vehemently denies using municipal vehicles for private use. She challenged those making such claims to prove it.
On Monday, Gawanas told New Era that she indeed submitted her transport benefit option but it has since “miraculously disappeared”.
According to her, she chose to be paid a transport allowance.
So for the past six months, Gawanas claims she has been under the impression that everything is above-board and her use of council vehicles was limited to official duties only.
As mayor, Gawanas receives a monthly salary of N$43 000.
On top of this, the monthly allowance for council meetings is N$2 300, MC and extraordinary meetings N$1 500, while workshops, presentations and site visits earn councillors N$1 000.