This week, the Omaheke Regional Council lifted the suspension of Chief Regional Officer (CRFO) Maria Vaendwanawa. She will resume her duties on 3 August. Vaendwanawa was suspended last year. This followed allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the regional council.
According to the regional council’s chairperson, Ignatius Kariseb, the decision to lift the suspension was taken on 22 July. This followed a labour commission hearing.
“I can confirm that her suspension has been lifted. We still await the ministry’s investigation to be finalized. Since the investigation was done by the ministry, we still need to see the report of the investigation. We had a meeting in Windhoek with Minister of Urban and Rural Development (MURD), Erastus Uutoni. He advised us that the report has been finalized,” Kariseb told Windhoek Observer.
Vaendwanawa, when contacted, said she could not yet comment on the matter as she had not yet received a letter from the council.
According to a source at the council who chose to remain anonymous, the chamber was divided on the decision to suspend the CRO. Some argued that Vaendwanawa could not be suspended without a pre-hearing.
“The ministry got information that the CRO had been suspended. So,the ministry sent an investigation team. They directed the chairperson to introduce to the investigation committee to the council. Councillors who were for the suspension of the CRO said they didn’t want that particular committee to come and carryout an investigation. They felt that councillors themselves must put down the terms of reference and put together the committee to investigate.”
The committee is continuing the investigation with the blessing of the remaining councilors. They now await the report.
The suspended CRO launched a case of unfair labour practice last year. According the source, the councilors visited Public Service Commission Chairperson Markus Kampungu to ask his help in obtaining assistance from the Attorney General for legal representation at the labour commission.
The lawyer provided by the AG, the source said, went through the document and advised the councilors to lift the suspension as the case was weak.
The CRO’s lawyer, Gilroy Kasper of Murorua Kurtz Kasper Incorporated accepted the lifting of the suspension, “But he had a problem with the lifting of the legal cost involved and asked the council through their legal representatives to pay N$20,000 as the CRO paid him to prepare the case.”
The development at the Omaheke Regional Council comes after, Okahandja municipality CEO Martha Mutilifa, who was suspended on allegations of corruption was also reinstated last month.