No to sacred cows

THE resolution taken by the management committee of the City of Windhoek (CoW) to halt all disciplinary processes instituted against the municipality’s legal head, Ben Ngairorue reflect unjust practices within the city where others appear to be treated differently.

It was reported this week that the management committee on February 8 instructed the municipality’s strategic executive for human capital and corporate services, George Mayumbelo, to place any litigation or disciplinary cases against Ngairorue on hold “as a matter of urgency until the grievance is heard by the management committee”.

In recent months we have seen how Ngairorue has been under fire for alleged gross misconduct among a host of other issues that like any other employee within CoW should follow due process and be determined or cleared through a disciplinary process.

It is thus worrying that the management committee made up of Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) councillors would appear to take a partial stance in a matter where they are compelled by the municipal laws to maintain impartiality and professional distance on matters of an operational nature.

The chaos that has ensued with this seemingly unpopular decision has not helped the city whose coalition has not been stable since its inauguration in 2020.

Last week, several City of Windhoek councillors who do not sit on the management committee, took a hardline stance not to discuss employee grievance matters at council level until the disciplinary process of Ngairorue is reinstituted. This chaos has been attributed to municipal insiders having felt the management committee was usurping the powers of the executive.

We tend to also agree that the move to halt disciplinary action with a vehement threat that those who would pursue it would be held accountable is unprecedented and will eventually create unsustainable precedence going forward which has the potential to bring CoW into disrepute and undermine all ongoing and future disciplinary matters and efforts of the organisation.

We have always maintained that our local authorities, including our biggest, the City of Windhoek, are at the core of promoting economic growth. One of the most distinct areas of local government’s competence with a direct and profound impact and influence over economic growth is the effective and efficient provision of core services.

These services – reliable water and energy supply, road maintenance, refuse removal, effective policing of municipal by-laws – are not only key ingredients of a functional city but also catalysts of growth.

With that in mind, it is critical that the political caretakers of CoW are able to manage the affairs of the city in a sustainable manner with the future in mind. Their choices must be put into account and be such that they promote governance standards that are able to match other top cities in our region and beyond.

Without this, it is true that CoW will continue to be marred by controversy and at the same time miss its envisaged goals, one of which is smart city status which is now appearing to be an elusive dream.