Gobabis management committee, CEO at loggerheads over 4% salary increment

Sophia Eises

The Gobabis municipality and its management committee are at loggerheads after its chief executive officer (CEO) Sophia Eises defied her leadership by pushing for a 4% salary increment. This salary increment would cost the municipality N$5,5 million, while the Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) sent a letter of demand for the local authority’s N$33,6 million debt.

It also owes the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater) N$31,9 million.

In a letter written to urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni on Wednesday, two management committee members – chairperson Isaak de Beer and councillor Elvire Theron – said the management of the municipality has an intention to disregard the committee’s decision to deny a 4% salary increment for employees. Efforts to contact Uutoni and Theron proved futile as calls, texts and WhatsApp messages sent were not responded to. The increment dates back to 2021, when the municipality management agreed with the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) on several issues. “The meeting agreed on the following; 4% salary increase to all council employees, benchmarking of staff salaries with other part II municipalities, [and] provision of 22 houses and erven to council employees,” the letter reads.

Two weeks ago, the management committee had its scheduled monthly meeting, where Eises tabled the agreement with Napwu for the 4% salary adjustment. “The meeting, after thorough deliberation, declined the 4% salary adjustment by means of vote based on the following crucial factors; there is no preceding council resolution approving the 4% salary adjustment, nor a resolution authorising the CEO to enter into the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement was further not co-signed by the chairperson of the management committee, since Gobabis municipality only elected the chairperson,” the letter reads.

In a submission to the management committee, Eises said NamPower wants the local authority to pay its dues.

“NamPower sent a demand letter for full settlement of the outstanding balance of N$33,6 million on or before 8 March 2024. [The] CEO office will communicate to NamPower, to explain the council’s financial predicament in an apologetic manner,” the submission reads.

Eises advised the council to suspend all its operational activities as from 8 March 2024 and that those funds accumulated during the month be reserved for salaries for March 2024. “Management committee takes note that council can only utilise the money in the operational account amounting to N$2,4 million, which is not sufficient to pay salary and two mandatory expenses of NamWater’s monthly bill of [plus or minus] N$2 million, and NamPower’s monthly bill of [plus or minus] N$5,5 million,” the submission reads.

Eises further wants all expenses of the municipality to be suspended to foot the N$5 million increment bill.

“All other operational expenses be suspended for the rest of the remaining financial year for the council to recover and only statutory expenses or emergency expenditures and non-disrupted expenditures will be considered; salaries expenditures, Telecom of Namibia bills, NamPower bills, NamWater bills, fuel, oil and repairs and maintenance bills, cost for power failure and water pipe bursts, and council meeting refreshments bills,” Eises stated.

The government approved their N$161,5 million budget with requests to limit their expenditure.

“No budget salary increase was sought and obtained for the fiscal year 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024, therefore, the council does not have an authorised budget to apply the 4% salary adjustment. Any adjustment will lead to unauthorised expenditure on the council’s records,” the management committee members wrote to the minister.

The municipality is set to have a special council meeting today to discuss the financial position of council due to a 4% salary adjustment. Councillor Elvire Theron told The Namibian yesterday that the letter was sent to the Minister.

“The personal assistants confirmed via email that they received the letter and they said they will forward the letter,” she said.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News