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Service delivery suffers as council infighting worsens

2020-09-18  Obrien Simasiku

 Service delivery suffers as council infighting worsens

OMUTHIYA – The ugly squabbles at the Grootfontein municipality has left residents without adequate service delivery. 
The bad blood between the municipal CEO, Kisco Sinvula, and mayor Absai Haimene has turned toxic over the months, with no council meeting held at the town since May this year, while allegations of insubordination and poor work etiquette were the order of the day. 
This has resulted in council failing to convene regular meetings where resolutions pertaining to the development of the town are undertaken, as there is bad blood among local authority councillors and executive staff. 

The municipality has, on numerous occasions, used contract workers to accelerate service delivery, as some permanent workers reportedly refused to execute their duties. 
Sinvula said he found the institution in an appalling state and disarray. 

He claimed attempts to clean up the mess and restore order turned him against some councillors and senior staff. 
Town councillors Elizabeth Kastoor of the Popular Democratic Movement, and Swapo’s Jack Tsanigab and Markus Shinyemba confirmed the bitter standoff, acknowledging personal and political infighting has taken centre stage at the beleaguered municipality. 
They, however, claimed they were working to restore the issues for the benefit of the institution and the community at large. 
“These issues were resolved – and next week, we will be able to hold a council meeting, but all I am asking is for everyone to give the CEO a chance to operate, clean and restore order so that we can move forward. He found these issues; thus, he should not be held hostage,” said Tsanigab, who is also the chairperson of the management committee. 

Sinvula released a statement on Tuesday in which he sought to address numerous issues relating to his alleged corrupt practices involving a company, K&C Investments and SG consortium, in which he was a shareholder. 
The company was part of public-private partnership (PPP) deal to develop tracts of land within the town. He has also been under fire for the alleged irregular appointment of his assistant. 

Sinvula, however, claimed insubordination and misconduct by some staff members, as well as abuse of sick leave and high desire of overtime was holding back the institution. “Realising the dangers of the above, I made it clear from the onset that such corporate culture and destructive tradition that compromised the delivery of public services was not going to be condoned and tolerated by myself as accounting officer – and that I was never going to accept two centres of accounting powers. After all, I was a CEO – [I] would always be ultimately responsible and accountable for any action taken or not taken at the municipality,” stressed Sinvula. 
He further added he received strong resistance from a clique of staff and council members, which resulted in internal and social media backlash. 

“A cohort of some council members and staff members has made serious, malicious and false allegations against my persona, of which the presser seeks to rectify and correct; the general residents of Grootfontein and public at large deserve the truth with regards to Grootfontein affairs [sic].” 
Sinvula joined the municipality in March this year. 
He was later accused of using his position to influence a PPP deal with the municipality. 
The CEO, however, argued the deal was sealed in 2017 and signed off by the former acting CEO way before he assumed his new position.  
“I clearly understand the perception of conflict of interest – whether justified or not; therefore, at my very first council meeting, I declared interest in such a company and requested the council to approve my exit from the company by disposing of my interest to anyone with keen interest in the PPP project, of which this was granted by council, signed off by [the] mayor, and witnessed by the deputy mayor and council members on 16th of March 2020,” he explained. 

PA appointment 
On the personal assistant appointment, Sinvula said, he proposed to council for the recruitment of a new assistant in May, on a contract basis, after he could not get along with the former assistant, arguing she constantly refused to obey and carry out duties as mandated. 
She later tendered her resignation on 15 April and 30 of June as her last working day. 

No council quorum 
Council has also not been unable to hold meetings, as members are failing to reach quorum, as councillors are absenting themselves without valid reasons, according to Sinvula. 
He highlighted this is a result of the “cold war” between him and the mayor, as well as other councillors. 
This started after Haimene allegedly failed to sign and issue back a letter in which the CEO was seeking authorisation to request for ministerial designation of a person to inquire into the allegations of misconduct against Executive of Finance and Information Technology Ileni Hainghumbi. 

Haimene could not be reached for comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered, despite text messages sent. 
Hainghumbi is facing charges of gross misconduct for effecting thousands of payments without council’s approval and was in January 2019 suspended and reinstated in April over the alleged transgressions. Since then, no action was taken against him. 
Haimene could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print yesterday. 

2020-09-18  Obrien Simasiku

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