29 Aug 2013 07:50
KEETMANSHOOP, 29 AUG (NAMPA) - The internal hearings for three suspended senior staff members of the Keetmanshoop Municipality and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Vleermuis resumed this week.
A reliable source within the municipality informed Nampa on condition of anonymity on Thursday that the Strategic Executive for Local Economic Development and Community Services, Jegg Christiaan was the first staff member to appear before a hearing on Thursday. He previously appeared before a hearing on 19 August.
Christiaan faces a main charge of refusing to act as CEO when Vleermuis was suspended.
His hearing will continue until Friday, before Vleermuis, Finance Manager Quinton Visagie and Human Resources Officer Andre Blaauw take the hot seat from 12 to 19 September this year.
The CEO, Visagie and Blaauw were suspended in March this year.
Vleermuis is facing over 15 charges, amongst them allegedly wrongfully appointing a legal practitioner to act on behalf of the council in a labour case between council and staff member Hansina Isaacks in September 2012.
Blaauw and Visagie are facing charges of negligence and unauthorised expenditure, as well as refusal to follow council instructions, amongst a host of other charges.
The town council faces criticism from staff members and community members for allegedly squandering around N.dollars 400 000 of its annual legal budget to pay lawyers in disciplinary hearings from July to August this year.
Residents say instead of using the money on hearings, such monies could have been saved for development purposes.
The legal fees budget for the 2013/2014 financial year is N.dollars 700 000, of which N.dollars 400 000 was already used in the second month of the financial year.
Town Mayor Moses Titus defended the high legal expenses in a local daily newspaper this month, saying the council has no option but to enlist lawyers services for representation in the hearings.
If they do not commit any misconduct themselves, there wont be any disciplinary cases for which council should incur legal expenses, he told The Namibian newspaper last week.
The source noted that Titus allegedly threatened to financially ruin the four staff members, as they are paying for their own legal representatives while he is fighting them with council finances.
I think the council will overspend with more than N.dollars 1 million this year just on those hearings. That will happen especially when the officials decide to appeal their cases should they lose, the source told Nampa.
According to the municipal source, lawyer and Labour Law Consultant Clement Daniels was hired to represent the council in these hearings.
Titus could not be reached for comment on Wednesday and Thursday.