WINDHOEK – Maria Vaendwanawa, the chief regional officer (CRO) of the Omaheke Regional Council, could be suspended while her role in several questionable payments running into millions for accounting services is being investigated, according to three people privy to the matter.
The National Council’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Economy earlier this year revealed the regional council spent over N$4 million a year on an accounting firm despite having a fully-fledged finance department.
New Era understands that a decision was taken yesterday at the council management committee meeting to suspend the CRO over her role, among others, in payments of N$160 000 made for accounting services to Business Integrated Solutions.
“As far as it stands, the decision was taken today upon the ministry’s approval to suspend the CRO over her role in the millions paid to several companies for services,” said one the three people with intimate knowledge of the matter, who spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity.
The Namibian Press Agency (Nampa) reported earlier this year that during a hearing with the committee in February, Vaendwanawa justified the payments, while acknowledging the unfair burden on the state’s coffers.
According to the press agency, Vaendwanawa said had it not been for the firm, the regional council would have collapsed.
She said her team of accountants were simply salary collectors as they don’t know anything.
She initially briefed the committee that those on the regional council’s payroll could not even do bank reconciliations, a basic requirement for professionally trained accountants.
The relationship between the consultant and the regional council dates back to 2010, when it started compiling the council’s financial statements. The consultant would later do bank reconciliations for the Omaheke Regional Council, which its internal finance department failed to do.
“But in 2015, especially when they uncovered irregularities (graft, abuses and misappropriation of funds) in the institution, I asked them, how can I overcome this?” Vaendwanawa explained to Nampa.
To arrest the wastage, Integrated Business Solutions proposed that the council install Pastel Evolution accounting software. “The reason why people are resisting is because they want loopholes. I became unpopular in that council because I sealed a milking cow (cash cow),” she said.
An accountant at the regional council, Veja Murangi, denied the stand-off with Vaendwanawa. Instead, he said it is currently unclear what they as accountants ought to do at the council.
“Who is responsible to do what since we are there and the consultants are also there?” he asked, amid the existing overlapping duties.
Echoing similar sentiment, senior accountant Helena Moses said they are currently understaffed to handle the over 35 accounts of the council.
“I don’t have time,” she said, explaining the dilemma of her workload. – Additional reporting: Nampa
2019-06-28 08:59:28 24 days ago