Shiimi grants NYC board suspension permission

Finance and public enterprises minister Iipumbu Shiimi has granted the board of the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) permission to suspend the director of the council, Calista Schwartz-Gowases.

This is according to a letter dated 28 March, in response to letters from the council’s board on 2 and 14 February.

“Having considered the content of your letter and that of the report by the independent investigation committee, I hereby grant the board approval to suspend the director of the NYC,” Shiimi said.

Shiimi added that he had consulted with sport, youth and national service minister Agnes Tjongarero.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) parliamentarian Utaara Mootu said the power struggle between the executives has affected the institution’s ability to address the challenges, opportunities and obstacles faced by young people in the country.

“The internal conflicts caused a divert of attention and resources away from the organisation’s core mandate of serving the youth,” she said.
She said it is evident in the organisation’s inability to conduct a successful sitting of the representative council, where matters of maladministration and corruption should have been discussed but which deteriorated into a political battlefield.

“The delay in presenting the report to the nation only enhances the suspicion that there may be more corruption occurrences linked to a deliberate agenda to protect the implicated individuals,” she added.

The Namibian previously reported that the government had launched an investigation into the NYC to probe allegations of corruption, mismanagement and non-compliance.

The investigation was directed towards resolving the internal conflicts between the executive chairperson, Sharonice Busch, and Schwartz-Gowases, which had caused significant disruption within the organisation, according to documents obtained by The Namibian.

The investigation hearings, conducted by a special committee appointed jointly by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises, commenced on 24 January.

The investigation committee comprised chairperson Clement Daniels, Martha Domingos, Augustinus Nawaseb, Nicolars Tembwe, Ellencia Hanse and John Nguluwe.

Mootu additionally condemned the delay in findings, called for the public declaration of the findings and emphasised the need for the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate.

Some members of the representative council assert that the investigations have come to an end, however, the results of the findings have not yet been disclosed.

Last month, the NYC’s representative council meeting was called off at Ondangwa because Schwartz-Gowases failed to provide the minutes of the previous representative council meeting.

This resulted in members of the representative council demanding transparency from the board during a media conference in Windhoek where they laid serious allegations against the director.

The complaints of the council members and others led to Schwartz-Gowases’ suspension on 18 March.

Chairperson of the human resources, remuneration and ethics committee Simon Taapopi said the suspension was to allow disciplinary proceedings to be conducted without any interference.

“This media statement effectively informs the public that all powers and rights of Schwartz-Gowases to represent the NYC, or act on its behalf, are halted until further notice,” Taapopi said.

Namibian Sun last week reported that Tjongarero ordered Busch to revoke Schwartz-Gowases’ suspension, saying only she can authorise that action.
Last October, Tjongarero in a letter instructed both Busch and Schwartz-Gowases not to take any action against each other until the ministry addresses their grievances.

“To revoke the suspension without evidence of innocence is an abuse of power from the minister and it impacts the independence and credibility of the organisation to deal with cases of misconduct from officials,” Mootu said.

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