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Uutoni drags Grootfontein councillors over coals

2022-04-19  Albertina Nakale

Uutoni drags Grootfontein councillors over coals

Urban and Rural Development Minister Erastus Uutoni has hauled the Grootfontein municipal councillors over the coals. 

He called the feuding elected representatives to order in a meeting in Windhoek and directed that council should be run in accordance with the law, particularly when it comes to suspensions.

This comes after a long battle, where Grootfontein mayor Talitha Garises has been hard at work to have the town’s CEO Kisco Sinvula suspended over allegations of serious misconduct. 

The allegations levelled against Sinvula include insubordination, abuse of power, violation of the Local Authority Act of 1992, violations of the procurement act, forgery, misleading, misrepresentation, negligent trading, utterances, violations of Labour Law, racketeering and misuse of public funds.

In an interview with New Era on Thursday, Uutoni said such suspension is illegal, and the CEO should return to office with immediate effect. 

Uutoni confirmed the urgent meeting he had with councillors.

“We met them. We had a good meeting. The purpose was to follow up on the letter I wrote to them to advise them to respect legal instruments in place – specifically on the issue of suspension at the council. The issue of suspension has to be discussed before the council makes a recommendation and writes to the minister to inform him of their intention if there are irregularities or misconduct. These allegations have to be investigated. Those are the procedures, and they were not followed,” Uutoni charged. 

In fact, Uutoni said he told councillors at the meeting that the issue of suspending a CEO is not even an emergency. 

He directed the council to comply with the law, as it has acted in violation thereof – for it to rescind its decision and to act in strict compliance with the cited provision of the Act.

The council, which is seemingly divided, had a special meeting on 24 March 2022, where Garises submitted a motion with allegations of serious misconduct against Sinvula to ultimately have him suspended from office. 

Garises this month managed to have Sinvula suspended and ensured security presence so the CEO does not enter the premises. 

Sinvula viewed the special council meeting only had a single subject matter on his suspension, and that was effected immediately after the said meeting, regardless of whether the majority of councillors objected to such decision.

The situation got out of hand, and Uutoni intervened when he summoned the councillors to Windhoek for a closed-door meeting to discuss the endless infighting at the town.

Uutoni said the Act requires the council to first inform the minister of its intention to suspend or discharge the CEO and to put out before him evidence in support of its case.

“They suspended based on “personal rules. Which is superior between “personal rules “and the Act? I spoke to them, and they understood. The mayor assured me she will go back and rectify things, and revert to me. My letter, which states their suspension is illegal and that procedure should be followed, still stands. You can’t put an Act aside and do whatever you think. We have to respect laws. They said they want to build a strong unity to assist the community with service delivery,” Uutoni briefed. 

Garises was not available for comment.

Sinvula said he is yet to receive a communication that he should go back to office.

During a Sinvula’s short-lived suspension, the council appointed Sarie Hangara as the acting CEO in terms of Section 27 (4) of the Local Authority Act (Act 23 of 1992 as amended); 9) and the resolution be implemented with immediate effect.

However, upon the motion, three councillors refused to support the motion, and one councillor sought ministerial approval before the suspension. 

The councillors objecting to the suspension without any investigation to prove the alluded allegation are Victor Shandjuka, Alfeus Nghikevali and Lovisa Iyambo. -

2022-04-19  Albertina Nakale

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