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Swakopmund asks court to right ‘wrong’ appointment

2022-09-30  Maria Amakali

Swakopmund asks court to right ‘wrong’ appointment

The Swakopmund Town Council has approached the High Court to help it resolve a self-inflicted mess after wrongfully appointing the second-best candidate for the position of general manager for corporate services and human capital.

The town’s CEO, Alfeus ‘Archie’ Benjamin, wants the court to set aside the decision by the management committee to appoint Nelson Simasiku as the new general manager for corporate services and human capital.

“The management committee at the time acted under the bona fide but mistaken belief that the members had the authority to select the second respondent (Simasiku), notwithstanding the recommendations by the interview panel,” he explained. Benjamin, who also served as the chairperson of the interview panel, wants the court to compel the management committee to consider the panel’s recommendation of appointing the  overall best candidate, Mpasi Haingura, to the position.

He submitted that Haingura scored 70%, while Simasiku came second by scoring 67% at the conclusion of the interview.

The management committee took the decision to appoint Simasiku on 12 April, contrary to the recommendation made by the interviewing panel.

“The regulations require the appointment by the management committee to follow the order of preference of the successful candidates, as recommended by the interview panel, from the highest to lowest,” said Benjamin.

However, should they not be satisfied, they could request for the recruitment process to start afresh, or can ask the interviewing panel to reconsider its decision. After this realisation, the town tried to correct its mistake by informing Simasiku on 28 April. They further informed Simasiku and Haingura on 6 June, and requested them to indicate if they had any objections to the interview process starting afresh.

However, on 7 June, Simasiku, through his lawyers, sent a letter to the council, stating that he was the most suitable candidate and rightly appointed. He further stated that the town needed to resolve the matter so that he could commence work on 1 July. Thus, it was not necessary to redo the interview process.

Simasiku has allegedly demanded that he must be given a boardroom or temporary space so he can start working. 

On 13 June, Haingura also indicated that he was the overall best performer, and that the management committee should correct their error and appoint him, or he will institute a lawsuit against them. “It has become apparent that the applicant will not be able to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all the parties concerned. Thus, the applicant, therefore, seeks redress of the irregularity in a court of law,” stated Benjamin.

Simasiku, who is opposing the application, said he was made an offer, which he accepted. A contract thus exists between him and the town council, and he acquired rights due to that. 

He said he was not part of internal management procedures, nor did he have knowledge of the non-compliance by the management committee. 

“But as a result of my selection and appointment to the management committee, a valid and enforceable contract of employment was concluded between the applicant and myself,
giving rise to a valid employment relationship,” said Simasiku.

So, any relief sought to set aside his appointment would amount to unfair dismissal. 

The matter will be in court before judge Collins Parker on 19 October for a case management hearing.

2022-09-30  Maria Amakali

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