Uutoni out to sabotage, victimise LPM– Simaata

Lifalaza Simaata

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) national spokesperson Lifalaza Simaata has described the suspension of the Karasburg Town Council’s councillors as sabotage.

He says it involves the abuse of power and authority by minister of urban and rural development Erastus Uutoni’s office.

Simaata says the councillors are currently awaiting the court’s decision on them allegedly irregularly changing banking signatory powers, making illegal appointments, misusing the council’s vehicle assigned to Karasburg mayor Maria Veldskoen, and awarding tenders.

Uutoni has suspended the entire council.

As a result, the minister has appointed former Aroab Village Council chief executive Elize Laubscher as administrator to head the affairs of the council in the interim.

The suspended councillors are Maria Veldskoen, Nesmus Mupiya, Josef Witbooi, Elia Hauwanga, Gregorius Ruhl, Frieda Amutenya and Fransiskus Skeyer.

Four are from the LPM and two represent Swapo.

“The minister of urban and rural development has made it his business to bully the LPM by abusing the powers of his office, and has purely made up his mind to sabotage the LPM in the two regions where they are ruling.

“This suspension is done haphazardly without following due processess, and is ad hoc and premature, since these councillors are already in court for the administrative decisions they took.

“Isn’t it reasonable to rather wait for the courts to express themselves instead of suspending people? That is declaring them guilty of alleged offences before they have been found guilty or not guilty by the courts,” Simaata says.

During his visit to the Karasburg Town Council at the end of July last year, Uutoni was made aware of the alleged unprocedural appointment of Hansina Isaaks as acting chief executive and the appointment of Maria Veldskoen as a personal assistant to the mayor, despite Nico Titus being the elected substantive chief executive.

Uutoni at the time said since the illegal change to the banking signatory rights, payments exceeding N$900 000 have been made from the council’s bank accounts.

Erastus Uutoni

These payments are deemed unauthorised, and those who have signed off on them will be held accountable, he said.

Uutoni wrote to the council on several occasions to reverse the alleged irregularities related to non-compliance with applicable laws, and prescribed administrative processes.

This was, however, to no avail.

In his fifth letter last year, Uutoni told councillors that the failure by the council to demonstrate its full commitment to all directives and any non-compliance would leave him with no choice but to dissolve the council as per the Local Authorities Act.

The gauntlet fell on Friday with the Government Gazette reading “the councillors were suspended without enumeration and allowances”.

Simaata says when Swapo councillors are accused of corruption, they are not even given a verbal warning, but regarding administrative issues at the council the line minister reportedly does not hide his bias and discriminatory mindset “and throws everything but the kitchen sink at the LPM-lead council”.

“People have voted LPM councillors into position to bring about changes for the better, and for the minister to blindly ignore the councillors’ choices for change is directly disregarding the demand for better services the community wants to see from this institution,” Simataa says.

Veldskoen, Skeyer and acting chief executive Hansina Isaaks were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) last year on charges of using their offices for gratification and conspiring to commit offences.

They were released on N$1 000 bail each.

ACC director Paulus Noa at the time said: “These people have no respect for the law and are doing things outside the parameters provided by the law. They are a law unto themselves and do not listen to anyone, including the minister of urban and rural development.”

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