Reinstatement of Sacked Council Staff Explained

KEY staff members who were dismissed over the past two years on various charges by the (now suspended) Omaruru Town Council, have been reinstated on the instructions of the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh.

According to sources, concerns had been expressed that the reinstatements were ordered regardless of “legitimate disciplinary and legal processes” in which the effected employees were found guilty and dismissed by the council.

However, according to Linus Garoeb, the officially appointed representative of Namoloh, the workers were reinstated because of the non-procedural manner taken by the council to charge, discipline and fire them.

Public Relations and Community Development Officer, Ephraim Katjatenja, was suspended without pay in April 2012 after he allegedly threatened to legally challenge a council resolution to demote him to a driver.

This resolution was taken because council claimed that Katjatenja had failed to produce the official qualifications he claimed to hold for the position of Administrative Officer to which he was appointed in 2009. He was then brought before a disciplinary hearing and then dismissed.

Human resources manager, Roswitha Kaura was also dismissed in April 2012 for alleged irregular management, and her conduct when implementing council resolutions as acting CEO, staff issues and leave.

Fleet manager Walter Kanguatjivi was dismissed for alleged ‘gross abuse of power, negligence, insubordination and intimidation’ by the town’s CEO, Edward Ganaseb, in August 2012.

Former finance manager (now acting CEO), Penda Nghaamwa was suspended because he did not allow expenditure which was not budgeted for.

The Namibian is in possession of copies of the reinstatement letters for all the four employees, which were signed by Garoeb, after the entire council was suspended without pay in December last year.

This (council’s wholesale suspension) was done as a “last resort” because of their failure to address serious issues of alleged mismanagement as required by the minister, over the past two years, the ministry said.

Only days after the suspension of the council, the dismissed employees were reinstated with immediate effect.

A preliminary investigation by the minister’s office last year revealed that Kaura’s disciplinary hearing was not legally constituted that the arbitrator’s decision for Katjatenja to be reinstated should have been implemented and proper procedures were not followed regarding Kangiathjivi’s suspension and dismissal.

The ministry further stated that the people to conduct the hearings were supposed to be appointed by the minister, not the council as was the case.

Garoeb’s said in the reinstatement letters, Katjatenja, Kaura and Kanguatjivi were reinstated to the positions they “would have occupied if not for the dismissal”, and furthermore they were entitled to “remuneration inclusive all benefits you would have earned if not for the dismissal”.

In Katjatenja’s case, council had to withdraw an appeal with the High Court regarding Katjatenja’s challenge to his demotion and suspension. Kaura and Kanguatjivi’s reinstatement was also subject to them (Kaura and Kanguatijivi) withdrawing the dispute they had referred separately to the office of the labour commissioner.

As for Nghaamwa, the reistatement letter stated that Garoeb had decided to withdraw charges against him and revoke his suspension, and that Nghaamwa should resume duty as soon as possible.

“The reinstatement of these people was done procedurally. The Attorney General (AG) office has been approached and they have aised the ministry on the procedure to be followed. The whole processes of suspending these people was unprocedural and it was on this basis that they were reinstated by the ministry. If the process from the start was unprocedural then the ministry cannot sanction any disciplinary action, and it was on the wrong basis from the very beginning,” Garoeb told The Namibian.

Attorney General Albert Kawana said he could not discuss the matter because it deals with privileged information from his client, the ministry.

“I can’t discuss individual cases, because my office deals with hundreds of cases of that nature where we are approached by clients to give aice and accordingly we give aice, and therefore I cannot respond to your questions,” Kawana said.

Investigations into the council’s affairs are still ongoing.

Source : The Namibian