Uutoni suspends entire Karasburg Town Council

Martin Endjala

Urban and Rural Development Minister, Erastus Uutoni has suspended the entire Karasburg Town Council, without remuneration or allowance, with immediate effect.

The drastic action followed after the council defied the directives of the Local Authority Act as well as failing to comply with the directives of the Minister which he issued last year.

The Minister’s decision is contained in the Government Gazette Notice released today, under Section 92(2) of the LA No 23 of 1992.

As a result, the Minister has appointed the former Chief Executive Officer of the Aroab Village Council, Elize Laubscher as the administrator to head the affairs of the council in the interim.

The suspended Councillors are, Maria Veldskoen, Nesmus Mupiya, Josef Witbooi, Elia Hauwanga, Gregorius Ruhl, Frieda Amutenya and Fransiskus Skeyer. Four are from the Landless People’s Movement and two are representatives of the Swapo Party.

During his visit at the end of July 2023 to the Karasburg Town Council, Uutoni was made aware of the unprocedural appointment of Hansina Isaaks as the acting Chief Executive Officer and the appointment of Maria Veldskoen as a Personal Assistant to the Mayor, despite Nico Titus being the elected substantive CEO.

This angered a lot of residents who cited the move by the council as a waste of money that could have been used to tackle more pressing community issues.

As a result, the minister was prompted to direct the council to stop the unprocedural appointment of persons into positions.

However, the minister’s directives fell on deaf ears. Besides ignoring directives, the council went ahead to award tenders illegally. The council also changed signatories on the local authority’s bank account without permission amongst others.

In August 2023 Uutoni directed the council to reverse all the outlined issues and allow those elected to handle such responsibilities, however, nothing happened. All this occurred despite the minister calling for a meeting to receive feedback.

The Karasburg council has been embroiled in power struggles, highlighted by conflicts surrounding the substantive CEO, Nico Titus, who faced suspension and issues regarding office access.

These tensions persisted despite the Minister’s directives and attempts to mediate, eventually leading to the directive aimed at reversing decisions related to signatory authorization powers and the appointment of CEO Hansina Isaaks, who was axed later amidst a fallout with the council.

“I am once again directing you and the entire Council to respect and adhere to laid-down legal and administrative procedures and to uphold the law as per the oath of office that you took,” said the Minister.

In October the Minister then drawered a line to put an end to the continuous disregard of his directives, threatening to exercise his powers as the custodian of Local Authority in the country.

These led to three Landless People’s Movement (LPM) party members getting arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission namely, Karasburg Town Council Mayor Maria Veldskoen, Acting Chief Executive Officer Hansina Isaaks, Franciskus Skeyer, for allegedly defying local authority governing law, but where later granted bail of N$1000 each.

In response to this, LPM Spokesperson Lifalaza Simaata argued that the Minister has not allowed the matter to conclude in court and has moved haphazardly.

This he said, wouldn’t be the first time actions were taken against LPM haphazardly and then failed on a judicial level.

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