SERIOUS allegations of corrupt dealings have engulfed the Oshakati Town Council in the Oshana Region where senior council officials are implicated in fraudulent activities, but recent attempts to take a decisive disciplinary action against the culprits have failed due to an alleged fear by some councillors that such a step would open a can of worms.
One of many cases of alleged corruption involves the Ekuku housing development project.
In its Resolution CM 113/10/2016/5.3 of October 2016, the town council of Oshakati awarded property developer VfK Investments CC the construction of 100 housing units at the new Ekuku township, but this resolution was allegedly tampered with by senior council officials working behind the back of the town’s elected councillors.
In a letter signed by the town’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Werner Iita on 13 September this year, VfK was accused of “non-performance and abandonment of site” which was allegedly enough reason to withdraw 21 houses from the original list of 100 houses.
Iita said that while some properties were registered a long time ago, there were no signs that the construction of the houses would commence anytime soon, what he said was unacceptable.
Iita noted that 21 clients have been authorized by Council to choose their own contractors to assist them with construction of their houses. “You are further advised that the list of erven as attached hereto has been withdrawn from your list of 100 erven allocated to you,” he said in a letter seen by Informanté.
However, by 16 September Iita had changed his mind. He wrote another letter informing the VfK to “kindly ignore the [first] letter until further notice”.
It is now alleged that Iita signed the first letter based on wrong information provided to him by Planning Department officials, but his own subsequent investigation found that he was deliberately misled by officials with an ulterior motive.
Since Iita is currently on campaign trail as a Swapo candidate to the National Assembly, Informanté contacted acting CEO Kornelius Kapolo for comment.
He said that although a Council resolution can only be revoked or altered by the Council, officials have the right and duty to address administrative aspects of its implementation as long as they do not change the essence of the resolution itself.
Informanté also contacted at least three councillors who said that the Council never withdrew any houses from the initial list of 100 houses.
This was confirmed by whistleblowers who allege that the real reason behind the attempted unlawful alteration of a Council resolution was self-enrichment.
“When non-performance is detected it has to be reported to the Council because only the councillors have the powers to revoke or alter their own resolution,” a source said, speculating further that the officials wanted to award the construction of the 21 houses to other contractors who would be willing to pay kick-backs, rumoured to be as high as N$15,000 per house.
When the seven local councillors – six representing Swapo and one representing the PDM – got wind of what was happening behind their backs they held an emergency council meeting on 7 October to address the matter and take a decisive action, including the immediate suspension of a number of officials and to launch an investigation.
The extra-ordinary meeting ended up being “a mere talk show” as some councillors got cold feet, apparently fearing that if suspended, the senior officials would retaliate by exposing the skeletons in some councillors’ closets.
However, other sources say that the council did not take action because the alleged wrong-doing was not real.
Indications are that documents seen by Informanté are already on their way to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
“If the town councillors are divided and cannot take a decisive action, then the ACC must step into the void and do something.”