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Suspended Gobabis 6 claim tribal victimisation

2021-10-01  Maria Amakali

Suspended Gobabis 6 claim tribal victimisation
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Six officials from the Gobabis municipality who were recently suspended from the local authority for alleged misconduct, claim their suspension was a concerted and calculated campaign of tribal victimisation and harassment. 

The group argued through their lawyers Sisa Namandje and Gilroy Kasper yesterday before High Court Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula that the campaign of victimisation against them through the unlawful suspensions is spearheaded by a coalition which took control of the municipal council and the management committee after last year’s local authorities elections. 

“Because of the campaign of victimisation and various acts of illegalities, there is now complete disintegration of good governance and administration at the Gobabis municipality,” said Namandje. 

Those suspended include human resources executive Frieda Shimakeleni, electrical services manager Johannes Nantuua, human resources manager Ashipala Shilemba, finance and IT and procurement manager Fillemon Makili, IT technician Paul Kayambu and IT officer Kondjeni Nghiwanapo. 

In September, the group approached the High Court, seeking an order declaring their suspension as unlawful, invalid and to be set aside. They further sought an order declaring council meetings and resolutions passed on various dates in May, July and August as invalid and of no force.

 The group also want the court to set aside the appointment of Steve Adonis as the acting CEO of the Gobabis municipality, and any decision he may have taken. 

The six were suspended in August for allegedly disobeying or disregarding work-related orders, revealing confidential information about council to unauthorised persons, and interfering or tampering with evidence relating to another ongoing investigation. 

New Era reported that the urban and rural development ministry earlier this year conducted an external audit of all capital projects executed by the municipal council of Gobabis for the financial years between 2012-2020. The audit findings implicated a few municipal executives. 

During oral submissions, Namandje said there were no good and rational reasons why the officials were suspended. In addition, they were never afforded an opportunity to be heard. He said as a result of the manner in which the group were suspended, they continued to be stigmatised. The lawyer argued that the respondents, which includes the Gobabis municipality and its management committee, have not complied with the rules of the court, thus making the application unopposed. 

“We submit that it is fatal that the respondents, in view of the serious allegations of abuse of power, non-compliance with the doctrine of legality and the rule of law, allegations of using power to victimise the applicants on political and tribal bases, chose not to file answering affidavits to deal with such serious allegations,” said Namandje. 

Marcy Kuzeeko, who is representing the Gobabis municipality, said the group failed to give reasons why their matter is urgent. It was her argument that the matter was filed in the wrong court as it constitutes a labour dispute. On this basis, she argued, the High Court cannot grant the orders sought by the group. On why they failed to file the review record, Kuzeeko said they are still in the process of collating the record. 

She said the respondents were informed to file a complete review record no later than 14 September 2021, but the applicants indicated on 28 September that they will move ahead without it for the hearing.

“The review record is thus not at hand, and the court is not placed in a position to review the alleged unlawful conduct of the respondents,” said Kuzeeko.  She submitted that the court should thus dismiss the application, or alternatively strike it from the court roll.

2021-10-01  Maria Amakali

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