LPM ordered to reinstate, pay legal cost of councillors

Staff Reporter

The Landless People’s Movement has lost its case in the High Court against two of its Mariental local authority councilors on Friday, April 29.

LPM wanted an earlier judgement to reinstate Daniel Gariseb and Rogetha Haack reversed.

Gariseb and Haack were recalled from the council in February last year without any formal hearing for allegedly siding with Swapo councilors against their party decisions.

The LPM in its application opposed the 24 September 2021 default judgement that declared the decision to recall the two as councilors as unconstitutional, unlawful and null and void.

The September 24 judgement was granted in the absence of the applicants.

Judge Hanelie Prinsloo on Friday ruled that the two councillors be reinstated as they were not given a hearing, a decision that violates article 18 of the Constitution.

In her judgement, she says, that there is nothing to show that the judgement was granted erroneously and therefore the applicants (LPM) cannot succeed in an application to rescind the court order of 24 September.

Judge Prinsloo further said that the applicants filed an ‘’unsatisfactory affidavit regarding the reasonable explanation for the default. The mere excuse that the applicants and their legal practitioners misunderstood each other won’t cut it as being a reasonable explanation under the circumstances’’.

The judge also expressed her surprise that the applicants did not address the affidavits of Burtze and Ndengu, who made ‘’grave’’ allegations about the pronouncement of Edson Isaak, the operative secretary of LPM, who at a public meeting on 12 October 2021 indicated that they were aware of the date of 24 September, but did not intend to attend court and further did not intend to comply with the court order issued.

The recall of the Gariseb and Haack came just three months into their official duties as councillors where both were elected and served as chair and deputy chairperson of the management committee respectively.

They were immediately replaced with Franciska Gaweses and Andy Boois before their 20-day appeal grace period provided for in the LPM Constitution expired.

Gariseb and Haack in their application to the High Court wanted their recall to be reversed and the appointment of their replacement councillors be annulled.

They resorted to the High Court after their plea to be reinstated by their party fell on deaf ears.

The two may demand for payment from LPM for loss of income in sitting allowances as chair and deputy chairperson, as well as councillors, which according to sources in the know may run over N$500 000.

LPM according to insiders may still face defamation claims from former Mayor of Mariental, Adam Kuhlman, who resigned earlier this year as well as his personal assistant, Anwar Thomas, who has been suspended. Both were implicated in the missing three tinned fish boxes of the drought relief programme.

Although no specific charges have been laid against Kuhlman and Thomas, the LPM requested for an investigation that is still ongoing.

The party may also face a civil suit from Paul Thomas, who was unceremoniously relieved of his duties in the office of the LPM Chief Whip at the National Council for allegedly scheming against the party.

Judge Prinsloo dismissed the LPM rescission application with cost, meaning that they will have to pay the legal cost of Gariseb and Haack.

By Observer