Things turned ugly on Monday in what was supposed to be a calm and fruitful ordinary council meeting at Omuthiya.
A stand-off between Independent Patriots for Change councillor, Thomas Ekandjo and the Mayor Johannes Ndeutepo, serving on Swapo ticket, had to be mediated by camouflaged law enforcement officers, who were called in to remove Ekandjo.
Ekandjo was ordered by the mayor to vacate the chambers for alleged unruly behaviour and disrupting the proceedings.
The commotion started after Ekandjo questioned some of the issues contained in the previous council minutes, leading to the duo exchanging words before things elevated to a point where the mayor asked the IPC councillor to leave before calling in the police, he told the Observer.
“The commotion emanated from the council minutes after I questioned some things, more specifically a motion that was once tabled by the Deputy Mayor on the issue of writing off water debts. But nothing satisfactory came forth, instead I was asked by the mayor to leave the chamber, something I refused to do until the police were called in,” Ekandjo told the Observer.
“Also, I differed with the mayor because of his way of handling the meeting. He thinks as if it’s his private business. I know he has the power as the chairperson but he can’t treat us as if we are his kids, where we are expected to dance to everything he says. Council is the place where we need to express our views for the benefit of our electorates we are representing, so why am I not accorded a chance,” added Ekandjo.
Furthermore, he claimed, to have interjected because Ndeutepo continued to ignore his request to express his views.
Ndeutepo on his part said the councillor was warned several times to behave, but did not heed to the call. “Instead he continued to disregard the chairperson’s instructions, before I asked the member to retire from the proceedings. So he was asked to go out not because he has done gross misconduct but for failure to follow the engagement rules. Because as a chairperson, I am mandated to direct the proceedings so that things are dealt with in an orderly manner, if you are told to stop you need to, same applies with being given a chance to discuss your motion. Also we need to follow what is on the agenda,” stressed Ndeutapo.
“So what happened was more of a disciplinary measure to maintain a sound environment,” he said, though denying that there was a commotion.
Heated confrontations have become the order of the day between the two political parties, whose councillors claim to be fighting for improved service delivery to the electorate. However, this approach seems to be backfiring as it often leads to councillors walking out of the chambers whenever disagreements ensue or in protest over an issue.
“The IPC councillor was removed based on standing rule 41 and 42, which guides and gives the mayor who is the chairperson of the council to act whenever there is a member that is acting outside the scope of the rules, and whenever unbecoming behaviour is observed. He was asked to leave before the law enforcements were called in as provided for in the standing rules,” said Omuthiya spokesperson Ottilie Shingenge.
Shingenge could however not want to comment further on the bone of contention, saying, “those are politicians, so they had their misunderstanding and based on that it was deemed fit to have Ekandjo leave the chamber, so that proceedings can continue unhindered.”
The Deputy Mayor Petrina Shiindi, just recently came back from a month long suspension which was orchestrated by Ndeutapo, after a fall out in September, on the basis of an array of alleged transgressions relating to practising partisan politics and removing members of her party from council meetings, leaking confidential information to the public and media, failure to uphold and promote the image of council, among others.