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Maltahöhe: A tale of two mayors

2014-08-08  Mathias Haufiku

Maltahöhe: A tale of two mayors
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WINDHOEK - The residents of Maltahöhe are paying the price of having two claimants to the village’s mayorship, after the dismissal of Simon Haikwiyu in December 2013, and the swearing in of Markus Saal in May.

Both men, in their supposed capacities of being Maltahöhe mayor, attended a national event in Windhoek this week.

Haikwiyu and Saal are both adamant that they are the rightful mayor at the southern village, whose councillors have been at each other’s throats for over a year now, amidst claims of tribalism and maladministration.

Haikwiyu, dismissed over a host of allegations, is refusing to give up his title and continues to receive his monthly payment from the Maltahöhe Village Council. On the other hand, Saal has since May also been receiving his mayoral pay.

The monthly payment to each of the two is said to be just under N$3 000.

On Wednesday, both Haikwiyu and Saal attended a national event in Windhoek in their capacities as Maltahöhe mayor. It is still unclear how much council had to fork out in accommodation and subsistence and travelling allowance for both men.

Haikwiyu was dismissed from the village council last December for allegedly abusing the council vehicle, tribalism, incompetence to manage council affairs and having disrespect for staff and local residents.

Saal and Haikwiyu attended Wednesday’s commemoration of the Africa Day of Decentralisation and Local Governance and Local Development held in Windhoek. Both attended in their capacity as mayor. The event was attended by several mayors, regional governors, chief executive officers and chief regional officers of local authorities and regional councils.

Approached for comment after the event, Haikwiyu refused to say much but maintained he is the legitimate mayor.

Saal however asserted that Haikwiyu was no longer a part of the council and that the council is in the process of finding his replacement.

“Although there is no replacement for Haikwiyu, there was a request made for him to be replaced because of the things he did. I seriously do not know what he is doing here at the meeting, because I am the mayor. The council still pays him, he will be paid until he is replaced,” Saal told New Era. According to Saal, Haikwiyu repeatedly failed to attend council meetings, and according to the Local Authority Act, if a councillor misses more than three ordinary council meetings without a valid reason he or she will lose that position automatically.

“I do not have a problem with him, but he brought this onto himself. I spoke to him before he was suspended regarding the allegations levelled against him but he did not change. As councillors we were left with no choice but to suspend him, and it was not done out of hatred towards him,” said Saal.

In a dismissal letter dated 4 December 2013, the village council stated that Haikwiyu failed to attend council meetings without providing valid reasons.

“You were also absent from the council offices for seven months,” states the dismissal letter.

During an earlier interview with New Era, Haikwiyu maintained that his suspension was illegitimate as the ruling party, on whose ticket he served on the village council, issued a directive last year informing all regional executive members, district executive committee members, chief executive officers and village secretaries that the positions of the current mayors, chairpersons and members of the management committees should remain the same.

In a letter addressed to the Swapo Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba earlier this year, Haikwiyu claimed that his fellow councillors were getting rid of him because he is not a Nama-speaking citizen.

Markus Saal (Swapo), Simon Haikwiyu (Swapo), Anne-Marie Swartbooi (Swapo), Frederick Adams (All People’s Party) and Johannes Smith (Rally for Democracy and Progress) are the five councillors of the Maltahöhe Village Council

The council’s chief executive officer, Eliphas Shipanga, is also currently on suspension with full pay.

By Mathias Haufiku

2014-08-08  Mathias Haufiku

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