Omuthiya council fight reaches boiling point

Obrein Simasiku

Long-running boardroom battles dating back to 2020 between the Mayor of Omuthiya and his deputy has resulted in the suspension of the latter.

Mayor Johannes Ndeutepo of Swapo and Deputy Mayor Petrina Shiindi from the Independent Patriots for Change, had been at each other’s throats and Shiindi allegedly had been trying to remove the mayor. The fights were taken to and featured on various social media platforms.

The fights came to a head on Friday, when Shiindi was served with a suspension letter, where she is stripped of all benefits as a deputy mayor and also asked to handover all council property.

Councillor Shiindi’s suspension comes following number of attempts by her to have Ndeutepo sacked through votes of no confidence, which was not entertained by other councillors. First attempt was in March, and also in August, in which Shiindi, argued that the chairperson has been running the council’s affairs like his private entity and also she fears that the mayor would bring the council’s affairs to its knees.

Boardroom meetings of the council often spill over in social media attacks of each other where they would try and battle it out to win over public support.

Swapo is the majority on the council with four representatives and three for IPC.

The suspension letter signed off by the Mayor stated that: “Council found you guilty of misconduct and or violation of the Code of Conduct for members of the Local Authority Councils Act 1992. That council approved to suspend you for a period of one month as per rule 43 of the standing rules in connection with convening and holding of, and procedure at meetings of LA councils and committees established by the LA Act of 1992, code 6 (5) (6) of the conduct of members.”

‘’All councillors are supposed to adhere and conduct themselves as per the Code of Conduct which you have failed to do so. You have violated the general provision as per the Code 2 of Code of Conduct by practicing partisan politics, removing members of your party from council meetings, obstructing meetings, making confidential information public, spreading false information to the public to cause havoc in the community, staff and council members…”

“You also do not deliberate in a constructive manner, nor loyal to council and you act in bad faith nor enhancing the image of council,” read the suspension letter.

On her part, Shiindi said she was still studying the suspension and consulting before she makes a decision on the way forward. “[The] letter …. remains unclear due to vagueness in the alleged misconduct I committed. For instance, Code 2 has many subsections, and nothing points me to a specific transgression and the evidence thereof, so there is no substantiation,” she said when approached for comment today.

Shiindi says the suspension is just a witch-hunt to get rid of her, and is because of the vote of no confidence she instituted. “The same day he blocked my motion of no confidence is the same time he acted to push for the misconduct, clearly one can tell his agenda. Also, he feels pressured because I question his shoddy dealing, hence the only way for him to continue with his nonsense is to have me out of the way, something I will not allow.”

The IPC councillor made reference to the recent letter of demand from BarloWorld as another reason, she’s not wanted. “In that letter Barloworld requested council to make urgent outstanding payment of earth moving equipment which were delivered, but no funds have been received way past the agreed timeframe. The equipment remains packed at council premises. And these are things which the council remained in the dark, we have more questions than answers,” she stressed.

“Here staff members are refusing to make payments, as they request for documents to back them up, as it stands the is not. There is no resolution or reference which substantiates the payments, so because I question all these things, he feels I am a nuisance that should be pushed off. The mayor took it upon himself to seek for the quotations without council involvement and resolution.

Now BarloWorld is demanding more than N$2 million for the delivered equipment, and while the quotations the Mayor obtained indicated an amount of N$4.3 million, things that were unbudgeted for,” the suspended Deputy Mayor hit back.

In terms of handing over council property, Shiindi said she has no knowledge of what they are referring to, hence requested the council to be more precise by listing the items. “As it stands, I am handing in nothing,”

Meanwhile, Ndeutepo said, the council’s decision was a way of disciplining the member. “She has been warned before but refuses to cease her way of conduct, and this was something instituted by another councillor before I made a similar submission. Despite the suspension, she has still resorted to her old ways and doesn’t seem to change. So this could still be something the council will look at and see, if she can be suspended for another 30 days when the current lapses,” said Ndeutepo in a telephonic interview.

By Observer