Inhabitants Incited to March in Protest

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By Frederick Philander KALKRAND Nothing came of a civil disobedient threat to take over the offices of the Kalkrand Village Council last Friday, thanks to government intervention. Last Wednesday, a group of inhabitants marched to the offices and demanded that the Acting Chief Executive Officer be suspended for alleged misappropriation of funds. According to the village council chairman, Alex Titus, a handful of disgruntled people han-ded in a petition to the village council deman-ding the suspension of acting CEO, Anne-Marie van Rooi, and threatening to take over the office by noon on Friday. “We have been tolerant with these persons calling themselves a ‘concerned group’ in accepting the petition on their behalf. The petition has been sent to the Minister of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, whose reponse the council is now awaiting. However, we will not give in to their ridiculous demands,” Alex Titus said telephonically on Friday afternoon. The inhabitants are accusing the acting CEO of abusing her power and of manipulating the village council. “This issue has its origin in an incident whereby the local chapter of a farming association wanted to borrow money from the village council to repair a burst water pipe in the area. I explained to them that the village council was not allowed to make loans for such a nature and that it was against the rules and regulations of our ministry,” said the former accountant and now acting CEO, Anne-Marie van Rooi, who hails from Rehoboth. “There exists this misconception among the community that my automatic appointment within the law as acting CEO was illegal, a lie spread by people who are hell-bent on getting rid of me as an ‘inkommer’ to the village. These are all efforts to replace me with a local person, whom I suspect of inciting people against me,” she said. The village council chairman, Alex Titus, confirmed his CEO’s suspicions. “There is a lot of infighting taking place among certain groups of people within the ruling party. In the process, young people are being used and abused to promote the idea of replacing Van Rooi with a local person. Anyway, Van Rooi has been appointed in a temporay capacity house and she will stay in that post for as long as the council deemns fit,” said a determined Titus. The purchase of a private home to be converted into a much-needed bed-and-breakfast facility in the village lies at the heart of the problem and features prominently in the petition. “The buying of the house for the purpose of providing some form of accommodation to tourists and other stranded people on their long journeys through the South, was the main purpose the village council bought it. Job provision to locals was also part of the plan,” Anne-Marie van Rooi said. According to her, the disgruntled people insisted that the N$75ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 paid for the house could have been used to upgrade the local sportsfield. “These people are just plain silly in their efforts and demands to get rid of me, but I will not budge and I will defend myself and the village council at all times,” Van Rooi said on Friday. Yesterday morning, Alex Titus confirmed that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Erastus Negonga, had contacted him and responded positively in favour of the acting CEO. “She will remain in her post because the demand by the people that someone from the community be appointed as acting CEO is unacceptable to him and the ministry. The PS will respond to the other demands later this week. Furthermore, I am confident that we will resolve all the other issues in an amicable manner,” said a relieved Alext Titus telephonically.