Tujoromajo Kasuto

Sylvester Mbinga of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) was recently appointed as Acting Chairperson of the Gobabis Municipality Management Committee.

This comes after the passing of the chairperson, Dewaal Louw, who succumbed to COVID-19 on 9 June. Louw represented the Gobabis Residents Association (GRA) since his election on the council in the 2020 regional and local authority elections.

“When Dewaal got sick, I was appointed as the Acting Chairperson of the MC,” says Mbinga adding that operations within the Committee are going as usual, however, pointing out that his position as Acting Chairperson is only temporary as a new council member from the GRA party list has to be appointed to the Committee, only then will the Committee nominate a new chairperson until the November elections.

“The MC is proceeding as usual as we are currently waiting for the due process where the party de Waal is coming from is going to bring in a new councillor who is next on the party list. Either they will nominate me as Chairperson or someone else. It also depends on the November elections if someone else will be the Chairperson or I will still be here.”

Mbinga adds that, “but usually the position of Chairperson is dependent on the willingness or unwillingness of the person holding the position.” Meanwhile the Chairperson of GRA, Gerald Jacobsz, says the association has not had a meeting yet to discuss who will be the next member of the Association to be appointed to the Committee. He however adds that the meeting will be taking place next week. Jacobsz further reveals that Carola Werner is the next person after Louw on the party list.

“We haven’t had the meeting yet to make that decision but I think it will only be done next week as with everyone dying here in Gobabis, everything came to a standstill,” states Jacobsz.

Meantime an audit report conducted by Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) focussing on transactions from 2012 to 2020 financial years, exposed various suspect tender irregularities, among them the awarding of a tender to a company which used a fake bank guarantee.

The town’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ignatius Thudinyane, now stands accused of making irregular payments of N$6 million to Ewi Technical Civil Construction. “The council paid N$6 million (53 percent) instead of N$2,2 million in advance payments to Ewi Technical Civil Construction CC,” the audit report notes, which was not part of the contract.

The late Dewaal Louw, had in May stated he would seek clarity from the CEO on why payments of N$6 million were made to the company without council approval. Whether an explanation from the CEO had been offered, and if any action will be taken, Louw had told the Windhoek Observer that, “communication concerning Gobabis and new information concerning the current report will be done through official press release in due course.”

Mbinga is reluctant divulge anything regarding the position of CEO as investigations are still ongoing. Ewi Technical Civil Construction, owned by Salomo Joram, and his Chinese business partner, Gongwen Xi, is alleged to have been awarded a road construction tender worth N$11.2 million having submitted a suspected fake bank guarantee.