One of the longest serving members of Tsumeb Municipality’s management committee, Kaiya Shililifa-Awene, has been appointed to serve as the municipality’s economic development officer, a position that has been vacant for almost a year.
Shililifa-Awene’s relationship with council stretches back some 12 years. She previously served in different portfolios on the management committee, including as its chairperson, its deputy chairperson and as an ordinary member.
She replaced Lemmy Geingob, who served in that capacity for eight years until he resigned last year. Shililifa’s appointment has, however, raised concerns among members of the public, who questioned the criteria used in her recruitment.
Some argue that there are youthful municipal staff members that could have occupied the position, while others suggest she was favoured because the same people interviewing her are the ones she has worked in council with for many years.
Her appointment raised further issues of potential conflict of interest, as the same person regulating and managing council activities, now works for it.
Some municipal sources confirmed that Shililifa was among those that were interviewed last week and said she was not handpicked, as some people claim. Others argued that “this whole thing of being shortlisted was just a ruse to blind us to think the process was credible, while they already know who their candidate is.”
It is not known how many candidates were shortlisted for the position.
Chairperson of the management committee Ndangi Sheetekela refused to comment on the matter and referred all questions to the municipal chief executive officer, Alfeus Benjamin.“I cannot comment on that issue. Talk to the CEO. He might be in the better position to respond to your queries,” Sheetekela said.
Benjamin in turn confirmed that Shililifa-Awene was indeed appointed as the town’s conomic development officer on Wednesday last week.
“We followed all the necessary procedures before reaching this conclusion. We first advertised the position and interested applicants applied and were shortlisted. Shililifa-Awene was among those that applied,” Benjamin explained.
“After the interviews were done, she was appointed on recommendations based on the merits of performance of each candidate. So, there is nothing like she was handpicked. Maybe if she wasn’t an applicant, who was shortlisted equally then there could be questions to be asked,” Benjamin stressed.
He further challenged those questioning the credibility of the recruitment process and decision to come forward and present their evidence, maintaining there is nothing untoward or suspicious about the appointment.
The issue relates closely to the recent High Court judgment in the case of the National Housing Enterprises (NHE), which appointed board member Elton Khoitage !Gaoseb as acting CEO of NHE in 2015, despite the NHE Act prohibiting such decision.
The High Court last week found the recruitment of a board member to the role of acting CEO at NHE to have been unlawful. (See report on NHE case on page 5.)