Vacant town councillor positions filled: Aron

21 Jan 2014 14:00pm
OKAHANDJA, 21 JAN (NAMPA) – Okahandja mayor Valarie Aron says the filling of vacant town councillor positions at that town in December last year was done according to procedure, contrary to belief that it was done unproceduraly.
Aron was elected as the town’s new mayor after former mayor Dawid !Uri-khob resigned on 04 December 2013.
On 17 December, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh faxed a letter to the Okahandja Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) Frans Enkali saying he would institute an investigation into how the two new vacancies were filled at the Okahandja Town Council.
Nampa at the time reported that the activities of the town council were suspended pending an investigation by the minister.
Aron in an interview with Nampa here on Monday said the letter she has seen does not say anything about the suspension of an Okahandja Local Authority Councillor or their activities.
She said the letter from the office of the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development instead questioned how two political positions at the town council were filled during a December 2013 swearing-in ceremony of seven Local Authority Councillors here.
Aron said the letter however does not state who the two Local Authority Councillors in question are, nor does it say who the complainant is.
She noted that as far as she is concerned, the vacancies of the Okahandja Town Councillors were procedurally filled on 04 December 2013.
“On that same day the former Okahandja Mayor, Uri-Kob resigned from his position, and therefore his position was filled by the next person on the Swapo-Party list,” she said.
Aron was nominated for the position of mayor by other councillors.
She was consequently elected as the new mayor of Okahandja from the position of chairperson of the Okahandja Town Council’s management committee.
Niklaas Steenkamp was elected as her deputy, replacing Paulina Gomusab who was allegedly recalled from the town council by the Swapo-Party on allegations that she was a member of two different political parties.
Selma Itoolwa was elected ordinary member of the management committee, while Simson Mieze as chairperson of the management committee.
Steenkamp and Itoolwa were sworn in as new members of the Okahandja Town Council on the Swapo-Party ticket on 04 December 2013.
The election also saw Andries Bezuidenhout of the United People’s Movement (UPM) elected as new member of the management committee, while Fredrick Shimanda of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Estha Garoes of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) were elected as ordinary council members.
On Monday, Enkali produced the letter which states that Namoloh received complaints about the way the two vacancies were filled at the Okahandja Town Council.
“I wish to direct that the council activities be put on hold until an urgent investigation is concluded by the ministry on the matter,” the letter reads.
The letter is dated 13 December 2013 and it was signed by the Deputy Minister, Priscilla Beukes on behalf of Namoloh.
Contacted for comment on Monday, Beukes said she signed a letter which requested the council to put on hold the activities of the newly elected mayor and her deputy pending consultations on how the two positions were filled, and not the activities of all the Okahandja Town Councillors.
She said the positions of mayor and deputy mayor were not gazetted in the Government Gazette for the positions to be filled during the town council’s annual election process.
Beukes noted that the activities of the five other local authority councillors remain active as their positions were not affected by the resignations of the former mayor Uri-Kob and his deputy Gomusab.
She said the issue of the filling of vacancies at the Okahandja Town Council will be resolved before the end of this month.
Aron and two other management committee members - Mieze and Bezuidenhoudt - were ousted from their positions in a vote of no confidence during a meeting in September last year.
The vote of no confidence motion was allegedly tabled by !Uri-Khob and seconded by his deputy Paulina Kuyandeka.
The removal of the three councillors followed several allegations against Aron, which included her allegedly building a double-storey private house on public land before the property was rezoned.
There were also allegations that she had received a discount on the price of the property, and that the title deed is being disputed.
Bezuidenhoudt is said to have built Aron's house, while Mieze's extra earnings have raised serious questions.