Suspended Councillors Back in Their Seats

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The swearing-in ceremony of the Management Committee of the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council took place on Monday amidst unhappiness about the reinstatement of the six suspended councillors last week. Emilia Amupewa was elected mayor of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, making her the longest serving mayor at the town since 1998. She took a break last year when George Shima-neni took over the reign. Both the mayor and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council spokesperson Shali Akwanyenga said the swearing-in process went smoothly. Wilhemina Sylvester was elected deputy mayor, Simon Haindongo as chairperson of the management committee, Perscah Mafale as the deputy chairperson of the management committee, Johannes Valombola, the full member of the management committee and Shimaneni as the additional member of the committee, while DTA councillor, Jennifer van der Heever, is a member of the council. The six councillors were suspended by the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Swapo District Executive Committee last Wednesday, for reasons the district coordinator Erick Endjala could not reveal. A letter from the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz district Swapo coordinator to the suspended councillors said the decision to suspend the councillors was made during a special Swapo district committee meeting last Tuesday. The suspension was however overturned last week when the line minister and the Swapo Party deputy secretary general John Pandeni ordered their reinstatement because he said procedures had not been followed in suspending the officials. Yesterday, Amupewa said she held no grudge against the people who supported their suspension because, “They should exercise their right to the extent of their knowledge. Let them do what they feel is correct.” She added: “We could not have been reinstated if we were wrong.” A community meeting on Sunday rejected the reinstatement of the six but Endjala said the party was not involved. The coordinator said as far he was concerned the councillors were reinstated and, “We will abide by it.” Endjala added that he was invited to the meeting to give them feedback and was dismissed afterwards. Pandeni said procedures were not properly followed and even if the decision at district level was communicated to the party’s head office, the councillors were not supposed to be suspended without word from the party. He said taking such drastic steps to suspend councillors who are employed by the Government was chaotic as, “You don’t tell people you do just like that.” The party wrote to the management of the district party office, instructing them to reinstate the councillors on Thursday. “We have learnt that they have written letters to the party and to the councillors to withdraw the suspension,” he said on Saturday, adding: “The process will go on and we will go into the issues that are being raised to see if they really warranted a suspension.” Asked what at party level would warrant councillors being suspended, Pandeni said he knew of “no constitution that gives them such powers”. Endjala said on Friday he had followed party procedures but if the party leadership decided otherwise, “We just have to follow.” “We don’t want to argue with them. We have given them what we have and it is up to them to advise otherwise,” he said. Being political appointees, the district coordinator said, once the councillors go out of their mandate, they could be withdrawn, suspended or recalled. A source close to the council last week cited failure to consult on issues that need input from the party as one of the reasons that led to the action.

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