Otjiwarongo suspends top officials amidst graft claims

Otjiwarongo suspends top officials amidst graft claims

THE Otjiwarongo Municipality is the latest in a string of local authorities to be rocked by allegations of fraud.

Town Clerk Paulus Haipare and Treasurer Immanuel Kaundje were suspended at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday afternoon. Lawyers representing the Council handed over a letter to the two announcing their immediate suspension.So far no charges have been laid against the two officials and it was not clear by the end of the weekend why they had been suspended.Both deny any wrongdoing.Kaundje reportedly handed in his resignation letter a few minutes before the Council resolved to suspend him.Public Relations Officer of the Municipality, Ismael /Howoseb, confirmed that the two had moved out of their offices on Thursday and that the reason for their suspension had not been disclosed to them.”The letter states that they will be notified of any further action,” said /Howoseb.A councillor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had not discussed Kaundje’s letter because things had happened so “suddenly”.It is not clear whether the two will continue to receive their salaries.Sources said that, according to some claims, the two had allegedly received kickbacks for municipal investments they had awarded; others claimed they had allegedly misappropriated money.Haipare said he had no idea about the nature of the charges but confirmed that he had moved out on Thursday afternoon.He had not consulted his lawyers ” … because I do not know what to tell them”.Kaundje said he resigned because he had another job while his health had also not been good for the last couple of months.”As for me, I have resigned. I am not on suspension,” he charged.Kaundje said the kickback allegation had come up earlier and had been discussed at a Swapo meeting where the allegations were found to be false.”I was cleared of that [kickbacks]. Every month I brief the council on our investments,” he added.The Municipality will decide this week whether it will call in experts from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing or independent auditors to investigate the books.Lawyers representing the Council handed over a letter to the two announcing their immediate suspension. So far no charges have been laid against the two officials and it was not clear by the end of the weekend why they had been suspended. Both deny any wrongdoing. Kaundje reportedly handed in his resignation letter a few minutes before the Council resolved to suspend him. Public Relations Officer of the Municipality, Ismael /Howoseb, confirmed that the two had moved out of their offices on Thursday and that the reason for their suspension had not been disclosed to them. “The letter states that they will be notified of any further action,” said /Howoseb. A councillor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had not discussed Kaundje’s letter because things had happened so “suddenly”. It is not clear whether the two will continue to receive their salaries. Sources said that, according to some claims, the two had allegedly received kickbacks for municipal investments they had awarded; others claimed they had allegedly misappropriated money. Haipare said he had no idea about the nature of the charges but confirmed that he had moved out on Thursday afternoon. He had not consulted his lawyers ” … because I do not know what to tell them”. Kaundje said he resigned because he had another job while his health had also not been good for the last couple of months. “As for me, I have resigned. I am not on suspension,” he charged. Kaundje said the kickback allegation had come up earlier and had been discussed at a Swapo meeting where the allegations were found to be false. “I was cleared of that [kickbacks]. Every month I brief the council on our investments,” he added. The Municipality will decide this week whether it will call in experts from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing or independent auditors to investigate the books.

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