Stop the ‘loot’ in Omaheke

OVER the past few years, the Omaheke regional council has become the cancer of the region with various reports of alleged serial looting, corruption and maladministration from those that sit in the highest echelons of power.

Just in December last year, the council suspended its chief regional officer (CRO), Maria Vaendwanawa, who had been accused of corruption, maladministration and other irregularities.

The allegations against the CRO were also linked to the findings by auditor general Junias Kandjeke in his 2017 report on the accounts of the regional council. One such finding was a consultancy contract worth N$4 million a year dubiously given to a company called Integrated Global Business Solution (IGBS).

Just as the dust had started to settle on a battle against corruption in the region, Confidente reports this week that Acting CRO, Karukirue Tjienda who replaced Vaendwanawa is under fire after misappropriating nearly half of the of the N$14.7 million the region received from the office of the Prime Minister for the rehabilitation, installation and drilling of boreholes under the drought relief programme.

In dramatic fashion, Tjienda is alleged to have made transfers of over N$5 million over the counter to a company that has multiple tenders in the region, this, against Treasury directives not to release funds to any contractor until work was completed and certified by government officials.

These unauthorised and dubious payments were also made nearly four months before the contract was signed.

While the office of the Prime Minister is demanding the money back and threatening to take action, the circumstances around this case stinks of underhand dealings and much more stern action needs to be taken to stop what seems to be becoming a common trend in the region.

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It is also strange that the council which is in full view of this matter has remained mute considering that there is clear violation both of the Finance Act and the region’s code of ethics. What more would warrant disciplinary action we ask?

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If this is the lacklustre approach to issues of this nature, would this not create a situation where officials think they can break guidelines without attracting any sanctions in Omaheke?

At the expense of residents of Omaheke who are in desperate need of water, the fact that money was paid and very little delivered should be treated as a serious threat to the wellbeing of the communities in the region.

Indeed and too often, the public watches painfully as every storm blows away in the maladministration of local authorities with no one being brought to account.

Without making any insinuations, this is the time that region needs to tighten its belt and safeguard the public purse particularly when it comes to procurement activities most vulnerable to corruption.

We have always highlighted that good governance, whether in the public or private sector, is always a challenge. While we want and expect people to act with honesty and integrity, in too many cases, self-interest, greed, and a lack of respect for the rights of others overcome the basic obligation to act ethically.

For this reason alone, responsible authorities must ensure that the region is protected from anyone who attempts to personalise it by going against set guidelines and ethical codes of the region particularly where public funds are involved.

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