Omaheke Defies Labour Court… Refuses to Reinstate CRO

The Omaheke Regional Council has defied a Labour Court order to reinstate Pederius Tjihoreko the suspended chief regional officer (CRO).

Tjihoreko, who has been on suspension for two stressful years, was suspended as CRO on April 05 2013 for “failing to implement council resolutions”.

Sources indicated Tjihoreko provoked the ire of the regional council that charged him with “gross insubordination” after he refused to increase the councillors’ transport allowances as he felt it was not procedural.

Councillors apparently wanted their rate to be increased to N$3 for every kilometre travelled in what amounts to unjust enrichment.

The suspension was to ensure the CRO did not interfere with the investigation to get to the bottom of the charges against him.

But from the onset the regional council circumvented laid-down procedures as it made its recommendations directly to the Public Service Commission (PSC) without going through the then line ministry of regional and local government, housing and rural development.

When this anomaly was pointed out the PSC referred the regional council to revert back to laid-down procedures and make its recommendations through the former minister of regional and local government, housing and rural development, (Rtd) Major-General Charles Namoloh.

Namoloh at the time had instructed the Omaheke Regional Council to conduct an investigation “in the shortest possible time,” so that recommendations could be made to the PSC.

Sources close to the unravelling labour fiasco said the Omaheke Regional Council dragged its feet and never conducted any disciplinary hearing, nor did it charge a clearly frustrated Tjihereko.

Namoloh also previously instructed the regional council to reinstate the CRO but the council defied the minister’s directive on grounds he had overstepped his authority.

At the end of February 2015 the Omaheke Regional Council also gave notice to Tjihereko that his five-year contract had run its course and would not be renewed, in essence dismissing him.

Tjihoreko took his employer to court and on April 24, 2015 his employer failed to meet the two-week timeframe they were given to file an answering affidavit. They also failed to appear for the hearing, nor did they have a lawyer.

Rochelle Kandjella from Kopplinger Boltman Legal Practitioners, who represented Tjihereko in the Labour Court, instructed the Omaheke Regional Council “to extend our client’s five-year term of office as the chief regional officer, alternatively to employ him for a five-year term of office as chief regional officer of the Omaheke Regional Council within seven days”.

But almost two weeks after the court ruled in Tjihereko’s favour the regional council has yet to reinstate the embattled CRO.

Had the regional council complied with the Labour Court ruling it would have reinstated the suspended CRO before yesterday (Wednesday.)

When New Era contacted Tjihoreko for comment he politely declined to say anything.

Chairperson of the Omaheke Regional Council, Ignatius Kariseb, was also unavailable, as he had travelled to an area with no mobile phone connectivity.

Government is concerned about the huge sums of money that it pays to CEOs on suspension with full benefits, and managing directors of state owned enterprises (SOEs), while simultaneously forking out huge amounts on people appointed to act in their positions.

Source : New Era