TSUMEB - Junior employees are said to have spilled the beans on irregular dealings at Tsumeb, leading to a fresh investigation which resulted in the recent suspension of the municipality’s acting CEO Karolina Damaseb.
Damaseb was suspended a fortnight ago, although she has not been charged yet, pending the disciplinary committee’s move to formulate exact charges.
The recent investigation centred around the municipality’s procurement and property department, as well as the loss of revenue by council from properties rented out. It is further alleged that Damaseb had in an auditor general’s report of 2018 implicated a senior accountant and a property officer of having been involved in dubious deals, as well as diversion of council revenue.
This, however, did not sit well with the duo, who refused to go down alone.
They thus decided to launch a grievance to council, detailing some of the dirty dealings which allegedly also implicated Damaseb.
Damaseb is the municipality’s substantive finance manager. “The employees felt that was a witch-hunt as one of their allies remained afloat while their boat is sinking. Hence, they decided to speak out,” Tsumeb mayor Mathews Hangula said upon enquiry.
“Following the grievances by the employees, council took a resolution to launch an investigation into the allegations. The investigation found some red flags, thus the decision to suspend the acting CEO to allow for a thorough probe and subsequent disciplinary action.” A committee appointed by the local authority is currently busy formulating charges against Damaseb. “She has not been charged yet, as we have set up an independent committee to deal with the matter independently. So, they are formulating the charges upon which disciplinary action will be centred. The firm which conducted the first council investigation had no mandate to preside over the matter, apart from giving recommendations,” explained the mayor. In addition, the other implicated employees are already undergoing a disciplinary process. “So, it is now two separate cases, all to be pursued.” Hangula noted that the municipality wants justice to prevail, therefore all processes will be done in a transparent manner so that all those involved and found guilty could be dealt with accordingly. “For now, I will not dwell much into the details, considering that this matter is still in its infant stage. So, I do not want to jeopardise the process. All in all, Damaseb has been suspended with full pay for an indefinite period,” he continued. According to Hangula, they could not set a timeframe, considering the complexities and magnitude of the matter. “I have tasked the committee to deal with the matter timeously so that we can not leave the department paralysed, considering that she was the head of finance, which is very critical to the organisation. So, we look forward to speedily resolving the matter so that everything returns to full operation,” he stressed. The 2018 auditor general’s report found that some immovable properties were transferred with outstanding arrears amounting to N$96 091; but these were misrepresentations made by the CEO and property officer, who indicated that there was no outstanding balance. Other issues included the absence of a financial reporting framework, and the lack of adequate documentation regarding adjustments to an appropriation account, which amounts to N$11 443 613. Also, there was non-compliance to the Local Authority Act by making false representations to the ministry and registrar of deeds. Furthermore, the audit report indicated that a depreciation amount of N$79 305 912 on assets was unaccounted for, while there was also an under-provision for bad debts of N$72 278 144. These are some of the issues which led to the rift and eventual reporting of each other.