Food Scandal Culprits Should Be Punished – Ministry

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development insists the Caprivi Regional Council should punish the five officials that are said to have acted negligently by allowing tons of food aid to rot in a military warehouse. Food aid sourced from donors weighing some 230 metric tons was ruined after the Regional Emergency Management Unit failed to fulfil its mandate. Last year, Cabinet endorsed a decision to punish those implicated in the food fiasco but so far, not a single official has been taken to task for the negligence. Those initially implicated include the chairperson of Remu at Katima Mulilo the Regional Governor Bernard Sibalatani and the Chief Regional Officer Raymond Matiti, among others. Some 18 400 bags of maize-meal earmarked for needy people was ruined. The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Erastus Negonga yesterday said it would be illegal for the ministry to take disciplinary steps even if the governor was implicated or the council through the regional governor. “The council will have to carry out the disciplinary actions according to the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992,” he maintained, adding that there were other council members who could take up the issue. “The ministry cannot play the role of the regional council. There is that thing that the ministry cannot do or central government,” Negonga explained. Last September, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila instructed the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development to take disciplinary action against the five culprits involved in the food fiasco. Both Matiti and the governor were excluded from all aspects of the investigation. When approached for comment, Amathila commented that she had done what she could to assist in the matter and it was now up to the ministry to take the matter further. “I have done my work to help them with the investigation. It’s for them to decide what to do as they have the Act that governs them,” she stated. The Government only became aware of the grain that was rotting and being eaten by mice after a truck driver who was delivering a fresh consignment of food aid alerted them to the scandalous situation.