Ineptitude delays disciplinary hearing

Niël Terblanché

Flagrant ineptitude is blamed for the delay of almost two and half years of a disciplinary hearing of two senior Walvis Bay Municipality officials.

General Manager, Agostinho Victor, and Properties Manager, Jack Manale, through their lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, made it clear that they intend to approach the Labour Commissioner for relief if the municipality continues with its unfair labour practices that are occasioned by ineptitude.

The duo was suspended in December 2020 to pave the way for an investigation into the alleged disappearance of N$24 million through the mass land servicing project.

The Walvis Bay Municipality, however, resolved last year to reinstate Victor and Manale along with Chief Executive Officer, Muronga Haingura and property clerk, Connie Summers.

Manale and Victor are, however, still being investigated for possible misconduct. A report compiled by PWC after an audit recommended that possible misconduct could still be found.

Although the auditors have since established that no money was lost, they have sniffed out discrepancies in the manner in which the project was handled.

Advocate Metcalfe, in a letter addressed to the Acting Chief Executive Officer, stated that his clients intend to approach the Labour Commissioner for relief because of the ongoing unfair labour practice perpetrated against them.

“At no stage whatsoever has the Procurement Committee been authorised to convene any disciplinary hearing/s. neither has the Procurement Committee has been authorised to appoint any legal practitioner/legal practitioners to act at such disciplinary hearing,” Metcalfe states in his letter.

Advocate Metcalfe stated further that to add further intrigue to the mishmash of self-arrogated and thumb-sucked authorization, the Procurement Committee and indeed whoever acts as Acting Chief Executive Officer conveniently overlooked the fact that all such required authorisation can only emanate from the mayor and not the office of any Acting Chief Executive Officer until such resolution is legally rescinded by the Municipal Council.

“Any disciplinary hearing convened by the Acting Chief Executive Officer will thus be null and void. Both the Procurement Committee and any Acting Chief Executive Officer and/or Acting General Manager: Human Resources and Corporate Services acts ultra vires,” Metcalfe states in his letter.

He described a letter written by Acting Chief Executive Officer, John Esterhuizen and Gertrude Jameson as a farce of justice that cannot be reconciled with her being a member of Human Resources and Corporate Services of the municipality to whom enquiries must be directed.

“It beggars any concept of fair labour practice,” Metcalfe wrote.

According to Advocate Metcalfe, the Municipal Council resolved on 25 August 2021 to advertise the position of Chief Executive Officer in order to obtain applications from suitably qualified candidates.

“For reasons known only to the Municipal Council some 20 months later, no such advert has been placed. The position of the Chief Executive Officer and other key General Managerial positions are filled by acting appointments of various persons employed at the Municipality of Walvis Bay. Key positions remain unfilled whilst junior employees reap the benefits of acting allowances while Walvis Bay deteriorates into a state of infrastructural decay,” he stated.

The legal representative stated in his letter that a copy of the latest correspondence will be remitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation of corruptly using office or position for gratification in contravention of Section 43( 1) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 8 of 2003 in respect of the Town Council and the Management who appear to continually ensure that substantive vacancies are not filled in order to allow junior incumbents to obtain gratification for positions they are clearly not qualified to fill.

“Some 16 months after reinstatement due to the absolute ineptitude of the Council of the Municipality of Walvis Bay and its managerial cadre, disciplinary proceedings have not yet commenced. This is not a fair labour practice,” Metcalfe wrote.

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