LPM reinstates Swapo councillors in //Kharas

Joseph Isaacks

The Landless People’s Movement-dominated //Kharas Regional Council has reinstated Swapo councillors Lazarus Nangolo, from the Oranjemund constituency, Suzan Ndjaleka, of the !Nami-≠Nüs constituency, and Taimy Amakali of the Karasburg West constituency.

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) fired the three councillors without pay about three weeks ago, but reversed its decision after being issued an urgent interdict in the High Court by lawyer Sisa Namandje.

In a letter written to the regional council, Namandje argued that the decision by the council was hopelessly flawed, both procedurally and substantively, and that it is null and void, because the council has no legal and statutory power in terms of section 10 of the act to relieve a regional councillor of responsibilities or to terminate a councillor’s membership.

At the time of the termination, //­Kharas Regional Council chairperson Joseph Isaacks said the councillors committed offences including absconding from council meetings without valid reasons, as per Section 10 of the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992.

“These councillors deliberately [and] with malicious intent, [tried] to sabotage the council, refuse to fill vacant positions in the management committee with the intention of causing the council to fail and they are unable to justify their absence from the management committee,” said Isaacks.

Namandje said Section 10(1), which Isaacks “slavishly and yet blindly” relied on, simply provides for four sets of instances (provided that such has been established by the requirements of substantive and procedural law) in which a member of a regional council shall “vacate” (not be relieved of office) his/her office by resigning by way of writing, under his/her hand, a letter addressed to the chief regional officer of the concerned regional council.

“We write to demand, as we hereby do, that by 10h00 tomorrow, 1 February, you must either have withdrawn the decision or you must have given an undertaking that you will not implement it until finalisation of a court application to be instituted by our clients in a few days.

“If you fail to revoke the decision or at least to make an undertaking that the decision will not be implemented, we regret to inform you that given its immediate effect and the devastating effect it has on our clients, the electorate and the rule of law, our client shall institute an urgent application in the High Court of Namibia to be served upon you not later than Monday, 4 February, and to be heard on an urgent basis on 9 February at 09h00 by the High Court of Namibia,” said Namandje.

The LPM opposed the urgent application, prompting a hearing on Friday, where the parties agreed to a settlement allowing the Swapo councillors to be reinstated to their positions.

The settlement agreement reads that the councillors will carry out their duties in accordance with the Regional Councils Act, including attending relevant meetings and being remunerated for their work.

“Friday’s settlement meant the matter is now removed from the urgent court roll, and will proceed in the ordinary course of court. The regional council now has until 1 March to file its answering affidavits, to which Swapo has until 19 March to respond. The matter will also now be allocated a judge, who must convene a management conference between the parties,” noted a statement from the //Kharas Regional Council.

//Kharas Swapo regional coordinator Matthew Mumbala said the LPM cannot expect Swapo members to form the management committee where the bread and butter issues of the residents are discussed and planned, while they run to the National Council for money.

“No. When you form your government you must form your cabinet first and the management committee is your cabinet in the regions. That’s their primary responsibility,” he said.

The LPM holds four seats on the //Kharas Regional Council, with Swapo holding the remaining three seats.

Out of the four LPM councillors, three serve in the National Council, and the remaining three Swapo councillors have abstained from being elected to the management committee.

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