The epic year-long quest of the City of Windhoek councillors and management to get Conrad Lutombi appointed as CEO was dealt a fatal blow when the Roads Authority triumphantly announced he is going nowhere.
Lutombi was the prefered candidate in the protracted recruitment process for the city’s CEO position but rejected the offer on Friday, citing his approaching retirement and the search for a new CEO at the Roads Authority (RA) as the main reason for his decision. He was made a generous offer last month, and told New Era he was studying it.
“After careful consideration of the new opportunity at the City of Windhoek (CoW) vis-a-vis my current equally important national assignment, I have decided to stay at the RA for three years, and complete this national assignment in the best interest of the country. In these three years, we will recruit and ensure a smooth transition to the new CEO, hence I shall retire”.
The 56-year-old Lutombi received the offer after minister Erastus Uutoni, who had questions over the recruitment, was convinced by a clarification letter by mayor Sade Gawanas on 14 November 2022 that cited there were no contraventions to legislation, and no irregularities could be construed to warrant the restarting of the whole process. “I can confirm that I received the offer to join the City of Windhoek. Should we accept the offer, the institution will share its top priorities, moving forward,” Lutombi told New Era then. But he made a dramatic u-turn afterwards. In a letter to the strategic executive of human capital and corporate services seen by this publication, Lutombi explained that his application for the job was based on his aspiration to continue to serve the country.
“Our capital city, Windhoek, is the heart of Namibia. Thus, the CoW plays a pivotal
role in the socio-economic development of Namibia. Hence, when I applied for the position of chief executive officer, it was aligned with my aspiration to continue to serve our country and contribute to its socio-economic growth.
However, after extensive consultations and careful consideration of this new opportunity and its environment, vis-a-vis the current equally important national assignment, I am, therefore, not accepting the employment offer for the position of chief executive officer at the City of Windhoek,” he wrote.
“I am humbled by the management committee and council’s steadfast leadership and principled justice demonstrated during the protracted recruitment process for this position,” he informed the City.
CoW spokesperson Harold Akwenye said the city never appointed Lutombi, but the council approved the recommendation of the recruitment committee.
“Council approved the recommendation of the recruitment committee and forwarded the same for his approval, which he did, and then Mr Lutombi was issued the offer, and we were waiting for his acceptance or decline. Appointment is only done after acceptance of the offer,” explained Akwenye.
He said the new management committee to be appointed, hopefully early next year,
will have to decide whether to appoint the second in line, or go out into the market.
Mayor Gawanas on Thursday last week emphasised in her last speech of the year that the critical success of appointing Lutombi
was a significant achievement during her tenure.
“At the ordinary council meeting of 17 November 2022, I announced that the Minister of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) formally approved the appointment of the CEO.
This is perhaps one of the most significant achievements to date, as we now have an accounting officer to ensure that we remain focused on our residents’ needs, uphold sound financial stewardship, and align our human resources to the ever-expanding city, growing population, rapid rural-to-urban migration trends, and the increased demand for technological innovation,” she noted.
Lutombi was approved after Gawanas told minister Uutoni that the investigations show there was no need to refer the matter back to the interviewing panel for reconsideration after the urban and rural development minister earlier last month asked the council to explain corruption allegations that had been levelled against the process.
Gawanas assured Uutoni that they had
cleared the process of any irregularities. However, some councillors had previosuly accused acting CEO George Mayumbelo, amongst other people, of trying to influence the outcome of the recruitment process, and by being involved in both the shortlisting
and selection processes. He allegedly also scored Lutombi perfectly on all questions, which raised concerns about his involvement.
Uutoni likewise received a petition from the Namibia Local Authority Workers’ Union (NALAWU), who wanted him to nullify the process, citing a myriad of ambiguities.
Contacted for comment, none of the city’s councillors responded to text messages sent to their mobiles nor answered phone calls made to their phones.
The approached councillors were Job Amupanda, Gawanas, Ndeshihafela Larandja and Fransina Kahungu, whose mobile phones went straight to voicemail. Meanwhile, the council was on Thursday dumped into
another controversy and leadership vacuum when it failed to elect its new office-bearers after councillors representing Swapo and the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) staged a walkout, much to the disappointment of residents and invited guests.
Swapo councillors were the first to walk out, with Queen Kamati indicating their non-participation in the election process. They were followed by IPC councillors.