PM loses court battle against ACC Investigator

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has been defeated by Phelem Masule, an investigator of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) when a High Court Judge yesterday set aside her decision to reverse his promotion.

Masule whose promotion was reversed by Kuugongelwa-Amadhila in 2020 applied to the High Court to challenge the decision.

An ecstatic Masule after the court case was concluded said: “The Prime Minister’s decision has been set aside and I am ready to go into office and take on the challenge.”

According to documents filed at the Windhoek High Court, former Executive Director of the ACC Hannu Shipena notified Masule on 16 July 2020 that he had been appointed as the anti-graft Chief of Investigations and Prosecutions after he had applied for the post in 2019 and had been interviewed and shortlisted.

“I have the pleasure of informing you that your promotion as Chief Investigation and Prosecution Grade 3 on 12 calendar months’ probation in this office at the directorate of investigation, Windhoek has been approved,” read the document.

The appointment was effective from the start of August 2020.

Barely a few days after he was confirmed into the new role on 3 August 2020, Masule received a letter from Kuugongelwa-Amadhila in which she informed him she had set aside his appointment due to a complaint laid with her office about alleged irregularities during the recruitment process.

The following month Masule filed an urgent application in the high court in an attempt to have the prime minister stopped from implementing her decision to reverse his appointment and to have that decision reviewed and set aside.

He was promoted to the position on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission after applying for that vacancy.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister, the PSC admitted that the recruitment process was flawed and that the highest-scoring candidate was not recommended because he had submitted incomplete forms in his application.

Masule allegedly came second during the interviews and was given the nod as a result of his expansive experience.

Masule was represented by Shakwa Nyambe of Shakwa Nyambe and Company Incorporated and the state by Mkhululi Khupe of the government attorneys.

High Court Judge, Eileen Rakow delivered the ruling.

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