Omaruru Council Goes Bust

Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, says the Omaruru Town Council is literally bankrupt. Mutjavikua made the revelation when addressing the business community and residents about the state of affairs of the town during a community meeting held at the Ozondje Community Hall in Omaruru last Thursday.

The meeting followed after a group of the town’s residents petitioned for answers on the suspension of their mayor and councillors. The group wanted clarity on the suspension and also raised their concern over capital projects apparently halted following the suspension of their local authority leaders.

The councillors were suspended in December last year by the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, (Retired) Major-General Charles Namoloh, after they failed to implement his recommendations.

The recommendations were made after irregularities were unearthed by a ministerial investigation into the activities of the council. The investigation unearthed shocking irregularities involving some councillors who allegedly acquired municipal campsites for themselves as well as tailor-made houses through the Build Together housing scheme. The suspended councillors are the mayor, Vincent Kahua, Albertus !Naruseb, Christiaan Nanuseb, the late Cretensia Garises, Johannes Hamutenya, Hendrina Gebhardt and Phillip Nghipandulwa.

Mutjavikua was delegated by Namoloh to clarify and brief the residents on the suspension that has driven a wedge among some residents. Mutjavikua said the Omaruru Town Council continuously receives legal claims from companies that were not paid by the council for services rendered. “Funds for capital projects were misappropriated, therefore some capital projects cannot be completed. The council is continuously receiving legal claims from companies that were not paid. As we are talking now your council is literally bankrupt,” Mujavikua informed the meeting last week. He explained that even TIPEEG funds earmarked for capital projects were used for projects not budgeted for as well as for the council’s operational expenditure, which is not allowed in the local authority system.

“There are financial regulations and guidelines on how to deal with local authority finances. These includes finances from the council’s own resources and those that are transferred from central government. These instruments are to ensure financial discipline and to guard against misappropriation of funds,” he further explained.

Mutjavikua said vacancies were also not aertised and applicants neither shortlisted nor interviewed as required for public institutions by law.

Some appointments were also not done on the approved staff structure or appointees paid in accordance with the approved salary structure of the council, which is standard practice in all local authorities. “The council appointed temporary workers, contract workers or casual labourers. There are those without contracts. Then there are also those whose contracts have ended but continue working and their contracts are not even extended. These are issues that cannot be accepted by our government and prompted the suspension of your council,” he said.

Mutjavikua said the government has been silent ever since the suspension of the Omaruru councillors in December last year. However, an audit report is being conducted at the council, besides several other investigations.

“This was just the general picture of matters at your council. The details will of course be revealed in the audit reports that are being conducted and will be shared with the public at the appropriate time,” he said.

Source : New Era