Andrew Kathindi

The Walvis Bay municipal council through its management Committee has resolved to suspend its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Muronga Haigura along with three others over the alleged misappropriation of millions.

The missing funds, estimated at N$24 million, were part of the massive urban land servicing initiative, but however never reached the municipality account and remain unaccounted for.

“As a result of the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) with regards to the alleged misappropriation of funds, CEO Muronga Haigura, General Manager of Community and Economic Development Agosthino Victor, Manager of Housing and Properties Jack Manale, and Properties Clerk Constance Summers, are suspended by the Municipal Council of Walvis Bay with immediate effect and with full renumeration.” This was announced by the coastal town’s Communications Officer, Anita Kaiviha.

“The suspension was done to allow the investigation to be conducted unhindered and without threat of interference, and the possible tampering with any of the records and documents relating to the case.”

The suspended officers have also been barred from entering the premises of the municipality or accessing its documents until further notice.

The town’s Finance Manager Frans Gonteb has been appointed to take over the duties of the suspended CEO on an interim basis while investigations commence.

The missing millions were flagged earlier this year by former Walvis Bay constituency councilor Knowledge Iipinge.

The municipal council has further requested that the Minister of Finance, Iipumbu Shiimi, be exempted from the procurement processes to enable the council “to obtain the services of an external auditor to verify the report on the misappropriation of funds regarding the sale of erven and properties, compiled by the Department of Finance,” Kaiviha said.

He added, “[we seek] to obtain specialised legal services in the event of disciplinary steps having to be initiated as a result of the investigation, for the reason that with the suspension of the accounting officer and the Chairperson of the Procurement Committee and other members already on annual leave, as well as the urgency of the matter, to assist the ACC in its investigation.”

Haigura previously told Windhoek Observer that the money had been flagged as ‘missing’ from a June 2018 financial report merely due to a banking error where around N$18 million was deposited by a bank without a reference into the Walvis Bay municipality’s account, hence diverting it to a suspense account.

“When they didn’t put a reference number on the deposit, we would not know what that money is for. It was diverted to a suspense account. And this is what brought about the so-called missing millions. The funds were deposited in our account. It’s for us to allocate to the correct account, which is the house number. As we’re speaking now, this is what has been happening.”

The N$18 million, Haingura said, was for 68 houses. These were part of over 800 houses from the Mass Urban Land Servicing Project in Kuisebmund and Narraville, for which construction began in January 2017.