Rotten Food

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK – The fate of the five Caprivi Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU) officials alleged to have acted negligently by allowing 230 metric tonnes of food aid to rot in a military warehouse in Katima Mulilo has been put in the hands of the Caprivi Regional Council as prescribed by the law. Last September Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, instructed the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development to begin disciplinary action against the five REMU officials. When contacted for comment yesterday, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development John Pandeni said the Caprivi Regional Council was dealing with the matter as the council according to the law was the one to act against its “people” (employees). “The matter was handed over to the regional council as it has the legal right to take action against them,” Pandeni revealed. The minister further said the regional council had also informed him that they were going to meet early this month to prepare for the disciplinary measures. He however could not give the exact date. The country got the shock of its life in June when it learned that 18 400 bags of maize-meal had not been distributed to needy people in the aftermath of flooding along the Zambezi River in 2004, which displaced thousands of people in the region. The Government only became aware that the grain was rotting and being eaten by mice after a truck driver delivering a fresh consignment of aid alerted them to the situation. An emergency due to floods developed in the Caprivi Region in 2004 prompting Government to appeal for US$33.7 million for relief programmes from the international community. Caprivi Regional Council Chairperson, Governor Bernard Sibalatani who also doubles as the chairperson of REMU yesterday said he only knew about five councillors who were tasked with the matter, and that he was not part of them. He also said he was being sidelined and knew completely nothing about whatsoever actions are being taken regarding the issue. “The minister is the one who knows about this. I don’t know, I have no knowledge about that. There is no communication from the minister or the prime minister’s office to me as chairperson of REMU or as governor. “I saw a letter instructing five of the councillors to meet with the minister for consultation. They have been there in Windhoek last year and I have no knowledge about anything being done in that connection,” he stressed. Following the food scandal, REMU chairman Sibalatani was heavily criticised for his handling of the matter.