Usakos mayor dismisses maladministration allegations

Irene Simeon-Kurtz

Usakos mayor Irene Simeon-Kurtz has dismissed allegations of mismanagement in the town council made in an anonymous letter leaked to the media.

She says the allegations are part of a political witch-hunt. The allegations against the mayor include the alleged failure of the town council to follow procurement procedures and unnecessary travel by the council’s top brass.

Simeon-Kurtz has denied the claim about unnecessary travel, for example to the Lüderitz Crayfish Festival recently, and emphasises her efforts to save the council money by avoiding trips. “I never even went to Lüderitz, as this person claims,” she says.

The mayor and the council are also accused of excessive and unnecessary spending on travel and events, while ignoring crucial municipal issues. Claims are that instead of directing funds for community projects, funds are spent on business breakfasts and gala events.

Furthermore, Simeon-Kurtz has been described as operating above the law, making unauthorised purchases and appointing personal assistants illegally. The mayor, however, has noted several cases in which she personally financed community projects, such as police station repairs and kindergarten painting, without seeking reimbursement.

“I’ve done this all out of my own pocket,” she says. Simeon-Kurtz further denies accusations of corruption and personal enrichment. She has additionally offered to provide receipts and proof of her expenditures. She further highlights her active engagement in addressing community needs directly, such as funding the upgrade of play areas and participating in clean-up efforts.

The mayor describes the accusations as politically motivated and made by someone who is disgruntled. “It’s just not right,” she says. Usakos acting chief executive Reinhold Evenson has acknowledged some issues and dismissed others as incorrect or misrepresented.

He confirms that Simeon-Kurtz has previously used personal funds for council activities and was not refunded for them.

He believes the criticisms may stem from someone opposed to the council’s progress and describes the letter as possibly originating from an insider with grievances.

The council was accused of purchasing three new vehicles valued at over N$1 million without following proper procurement processes, and that the approval of these vehicles was pushed through an urgent procurement process. There are also longstanding issues with non-operational fire trucks, open manholes posing danger and inadequate waste management and lack of sanitation facilities which are reportedly leading to pollution and health hazards.

Evenson has acknowledged the purchase of vehicles, but asserts that the proper procedures were followed. He has also confirmed the issue of open manholes due to vandalism and theft, but notes that efforts are underway to resolve this by manufacturing concrete covers.

He further says there is adequate oversight within the council and decisions are made transparently and in accordance with council approvals.

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