Grootfontein-The recent unrest in Grootfontein has been described as a witch-hunt for personal gain by those who are spearheading the campaign for the CEO and some councillors to be ousted for alleged corruption, mismanagement of funds, suspected fraud and illegal sale of land.
It seems the dust has refused to settle n the town following some attempted land grabbing last month, which left the community divided with some advocating for the removal of the CEO Charles Kariko and councillors such as Jack Tsanigab, the chairperson of the management committee, for apparently having failed the community.
On the other hand a section of the community sympathetic with the CEO and the implicated town councillors last week staged a demonstration in support of the besieged officials.
“I will only step down or resign upon a decision of the minister or the council and not by the public’s baseless demands,” vowed Kariko.
The standoff is said to have been sparked by Landless People’s Movement (LPM) activists Caroline Engelbrecht and Morais Gaingob, who petitioned the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaaningwa, seeking her immediate intervention at the municipality.
The CEO and the councillors stand accused of having sold land for N$30 million to Tulaing Trading Company but that the funds never reached council coffers and remain unaccounted for. They also want to know what happened to the N$10 million council received to demolish the single quarters some years ago and replace them with new houses.
Kariko rubbished the allegations, saying: “Don’t forget this lady Engelbrecht was the one who insinuated allegations of sexual advances a few years ago. She was fired and she has a personal agenda towards the municipality. And that N$30 million, we did not receive it. The only money we received was N$3.6 million from Tulaing for constructing houses. After approval it was advertised for objections but there were none. I challenge her to bring proof for that ‘unaccounted’ N$30 million – that money was sent to the municipality’s account, not mine,” he said.
“The transaction happened in 2012 while I was still on suspension. How am I involved in this? By the way the project had ministerial approval. Every sale of land we do has to be approved by the minister – we are transparent. The N$7 million is not true also and it did not even go beyond N$1 million,” said Kariko.
With regard to the N$10 million, Tsanigab said the money is accounted for and is in the municipality account. “People should know that there are procedures to follow – how were we supposed to demolish the single quarters if we did not have a place where they could go? There are processes such as an environmental assessment, planning, township development, topographic survey and the servicing of land. All this costs money, and N$10 million was barely enough for all that work,” said Kariko.
Tsanigab used the opportunity to clear his side as he was also accused of owning multiple plots and invading resettlement farms.
“Since I became a councillor in 2015 we have never given out plots or sold land to anyone. These allegations are devoid of any truth,” he said.