Gobabis residents demand ouster of corrupt municipal employees

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The Gobabis Local Authority Coalition on Friday issued an ultimatum letter to the Office of the Governor of Omaheke, and the Municipality of Gobabis, demanding the immediate resignation of employees at the Gobabis Municipality involved in suspected cases of corruption.

This comes amid allegations of rampant corruption and maladministration in the town’s municipality. “Any employee that is involved, but chooses to stay on and is then found guilty by the further detailed investigations and anticipated disciplinary actions, will have to face the consequences,” the letter warned if the employees do not comply with the demand.

The Coalition is composed of the Gobabis Residents Association (GRA), Landless Peoples Movement (LPM), Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO). In their letter, the coalition also demanded answers regarding allegations that over N$51 million had been lost in electricity sales due ignorance of the previous Council. “Why nothing was done to stop the monthly losses incurred on the sale of electricity? This with the variance report tabled at management committee meetings by the CEO.Why did the Office of the Governor choose not to act and also to officially acknowledge the request from the current council to assist on ministerial and national level with the electricity cut off threats from Nampower?”

They additionally rebuked the former Governor of Omaheke, Region, Festus Ueitele, and enquired why a report from Gobabis Municipality’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ignatius Thudinyane, sent to the Office of the Governor in 2018 was completely ignored. “Does the Governor of Omaheke choose when his office will be involved and when not? Our Honourable Governor was quick to call a meeting with council when a party member is suspended as a result of the current Report on Capital Projects from Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) pending further investigation,” the letter read.

The audit report in possession of the Windhoek Observer, focused on transactions from 2012 to 2020 financial years. The report has unearthed various allegations of tender irregularities, among them being the awarding of a tender to a company which had used a fake bank guarantee.

The municipality is alleged to have only noticed the discrepancy after a year and four months that the bank guarantee submitted by the contractor was counterfeit. The error was pointed out by the municipality’s Acting Executive of Infrastructure, Properties and Technical Services, Johannes Endyala, this March.

“The performance guarantees submitted by Ewi Technical Civil Construction CC were forged as they did not originate from the bank,” said Endyala informing the Gobabis procurement committee that he had confirmed with the bank on 22 January 2020. Ewi Technical Civil Construction CC was awarded the N$11m tender by Gobabis Municipality to upgrade the Roesner Street in the town from gravel to tar and interlocks. The company is owned by a businessman, Salomo Joram, and his Chinese business partner, Gongwen Xi.

According to the report, the town’s CEO, Thundinyane 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 noted, which was not part of the contract.

Chairperson of the Gobabis management committee, Dewaal Louw, said he would seek clarity from the CEO on why payment 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 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”.

According to media reports, Thundinyane had suspended Gobabis Municipality’s Manager for Corporate Services and Human Resources, Frieda Shimakeleni, after she had been requested to also provide clarity on some of the matters raised in the report by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD).

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