Battlelines sharpen at Usakos

Battlelines sharpen at Usakos

DIVISIONS between a community group and council members at Usakos deepened this week.

In the latest dispute, residents are unable to recharge their prepaid electricity cards because of a breakdown in the computer system, according to community activist Daniel Stramiss, leader of the Concerned Group. “This has left hundreds of residents without electricity for more than two weeks.”Members of the Concerned Group have alleged that Municipal Treasurer and Acting Chief Executive Officer Chris Shivolo was responsible.They say, according to a statement released by the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), that the damage was caused after Shivolo allegedly suspended Joram Awarab – a cashier and the only employee qualified to operate the prepaid system.Stramiss told The Namibian the reason for the dismissal was given as the alleged “misuse of funds”.Shivolo allegedly said Awarab took N$200.Stramiss and other CG members believe Awarab’s suspension was because of his co-operation with the Concerned Group.”How can a man who has taken N$15 000 from the Council dismiss someone for N$200, which he did not take,” he charged.Residents have expressed concern over a N$15 000 study loan granted to Shivolo only a month after he took up his position.Shivolo dismissed all charges by the Concerned Group when contacted by the NSHR for comment.He said allegations of a damaged prepaid machine were “news” to him.”I will say nothing further, because there is nothing to say”.He described Awarab’s suspension as an “internal matter” and again declined further comment.Stramiss has also started a personal battle after he was detained overnight by the Police recently on allegations of trespassing.He said this week he was going to take legal action against the Police.”They never told me my rights.Armed Police came to arrest me.I was handcuffed and locked up with serious criminals.It was a terrible experience”.The young community leader, who has been at the forefront of community demonstrations against corruption at the town, was released without being charged.He was arrested after refusing to hand over the keys of a kindergarten/multi-purpose centre at Hakhaseb of which he is the administrative officer.Shivolo told The Namibian earlier he had asked Stramiss for the keys, both in person and in writing.”They will not get me out of here – even if they come with the whole army,” he said.The centre was built with funds provided by the Icelandic International Development Agency (Iceida) in 2001.According to Gisli Palsson, Country Director of Iceida, an agreement was signed with the Usakos Council making Council the owner of the building.”Council further committed themselves to take over the social and financial responsibilities, and to allow the Together Kindergarten to operate in the building,” he said.”We regret the situation, but there is an agreement that stipulates the roles of the two parties clearly”.He said his organisation did not wish to get involved in the dispute as the project had been concluded at the end of 2002.”This has left hundreds of residents without electricity for more than two weeks.”Members of the Concerned Group have alleged that Municipal Treasurer and Acting Chief Executive Officer Chris Shivolo was responsible. They say, according to a statement released by the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), that the damage was caused after Shivolo allegedly suspended Joram Awarab – a cashier and the only employee qualified to operate the prepaid system. Stramiss told The Namibian the reason for the dismissal was given as the alleged “misuse of funds”. Shivolo allegedly said Awarab took N$200. Stramiss and other CG members believe Awarab’s suspension was because of his co-operation with the Concerned Group. “How can a man who has taken N$15 000 from the Council dismiss someone for N$200, which he did not take,” he charged. Residents have expressed concern over a N$15 000 study loan granted to Shivolo only a month after he took up his position. Shivolo dismissed all charges by the Concerned Group when contacted by the NSHR for comment. He said allegations of a damaged prepaid machine were “news” to him. “I will say nothing further, because there is nothing to say”. He described Awarab’s suspension as an “internal matter” and again declined further comment. Stramiss has also started a personal battle after he was detained overnight by the Police recently on allegations of trespassing. He said this week he was going to take legal action against the Police. “They never told me my rights. Armed Police came to arrest me. I was handcuffed and locked up with serious criminals. It was a terrible experience”. The young community leader, who has been at the forefront of community demonstrations against corruption at the town, was released without being charged. He was arrested after refusing to hand over the keys of a kindergarten/multi-purpose centre at Hakhaseb of which he is the administrative officer. Shivolo told The Namibian earlier he had asked Stramiss for the keys, both in person and in writing. “They will not get me out of here – even if they come with the whole army,” he said. The centre was built with funds provided by the Icelandic International Development Agency (Iceida) in 2001. According to Gisli Palsson, Country Director of Iceida, an agreement was signed with the Usakos Council making Council the owner of the building. “Council further committed themselves to take over the social and financial responsibilities, and to allow the Together Kindergarten to operate in the building,” he said. “We regret the situation, but there is an agreement that stipulates the roles of the two parties clearly”. He said his organisation did not wish to get involved in the dispute as the project had been concluded at the end of 2002.

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