Illegally employed CRO arrested on charges of corruption

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Zambezi Chief Regional Officer, Regina Ndopu-Lubinda, along with three other individuals, have been arrested for alleged corrupt practices and misuse of their positions, violating Section 43 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Auditor General Junias Kandjeke reported in 2020 that Ndopu-Lubinda’s employment was illegal as the extension of her contract was not approved by the Public Service Commission.

The arrest was part of a joint operation conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Namibian Police in Katima Mulilo yesterday.

The individuals arrested alongside her are Beaven Walubita, the Regional Director of Planning and Rural Development, as well as Cletius Mubita and Daniel Mbala.

The charges they face amount to over N$4 million, involving five counts of corruption during the period from September 2016 to December 2020.

They made their first appearance in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court yesterday, where each was granted bail of N$50,000. The case has been postponed to 7 December 2023.

ACC Public Relations Officer, Josefina Nghituwamata, confirmed the arrest.

“I can confirm that four employees of the Zambezi Regional Council have been detained in connection with a corruption investigation being conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission. They are accused of corruptly using position or office for gratification in violation of section 43(1) read with sections 35 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2003 (Act No. 8 of 2003),” she said.

According to Kandjeke, an audited report of the 2020 financial year, flagged Ndopu-Lubinda’s employment as Zambezi’s Chief Regional Officer.

He reported that the extension of Ndupu-Lubinda’s contract was deemed ultra vires by the Attorney General’s office, underscoring irregularities in the process.

“The Attorney General’s office advised that the contract resulted in an ultra vires action. Therefore, the auditors observed that the council approached the Treasury in terms of section 11, subsection (3), requesting the Treasury to waive the claim against such person under section 16(1)(c)(i) or to authorise under section 20 that he or she be discharged from liability,” Kandjeke.

The recent development follows revelations earlier this year by Nghidinua Daniel, the Executive Director at the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, regarding the illegitimate extension of Ndopu-Lubinda’s employment contract.

Daniel said at the time that Zambezi Regional Council had sought an extension recommendation, which was denied by the Public Service Commission due to unauthorised expenditure.

“Following audit findings and recommendations, the Regional Council acknowledged the omission and in 2021, the regional authority approached the Public Service Commission to obtain a recommendation for the period from 1 March 2016 to 28 February 2021. This request was declined by the commission, which advised the council to approach the Ministry of Finance regarding unauthorised expenditure,” said Daniel.

In a separate case, three members of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) in Karasburg were also arrested by the ACC on corruption charges last week.

The accused, including Mayor Maria Veldskoen, Chairperson Franciskus Skeyer, and Acting Chief Executive Hansina Isaacks, face allegations of corruptly using their office or position for gratification and conspiring to commit offences. The trio was granted bail of N$1000 each.

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