KEETMANSHOOP – Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Peya Mushelenga wants the //Kharas Regional Council to answer several issues that have raised eyebrows.
Information obtained by New Era indicates that from March to December last year, acting Chief Regional Officer (CRO) Augustinus Ucham has been out of office for about 87 days.
Two of such days were used to attend to private matters, while the rest he indicated as being out of office on official duties, accumulating Subsistence and Travel allowance (S&T) of over N$ 300 000 in the process.
Records show that in July 2017, the acting CRO was only in office twice, while for the whole of September, he only turned up at the office for five days and was out with official duties for the remainder of the days.
Mushelenga is seeking answers from council chairperson Jan Scholtz, mainly on issues of the position of CRO, and the seemingly abnormal absence of Ucham from office.
In a letter dated April 30, 2018, Mushelenga wants to know why the CRO position which became vacant in December 2016 was advertised late, and also on why the CRO’s office has been turned into a kind of mobile office, with the CRO not in his office on numerous occasions.
Mushelenga has noted that information availed to his office suggests the council put on hold the advertisement of the CRO position to allow Ucham’s confirmation as director, and to enable him to apply.
“Is there any truth in this suspicion? Provide me with a detailed explanation, including details of the appointment of Mr Ucham as director, and details of his appointment as acting CRO and his probation, with supporting documents attached,” he asks in the letter.
New Era understands that the council deliberately took a resolution not to advertise the CRO post, to allow a recently promoted Ucham to complete his one-year probation as director, to enable him to also apply for the CRO post.
It is further said that council was against the advertising of the post as it would not only have made Ucham unable to apply, but this would have given General Service Director, Elizabeth Coetzee, the only director at the council at the time, a good chance to get the position and the council simply could not let this happen.
This is allegedly due to the fact that Coetzee does things by the book and have allegedly in the past denied some councillors travel requests when they did not follow procedures. Mushelenga further asked the chairperson to explain why Ucham, is always out of office, saying evidence should be provided on whether these leaves of absence have all been approved, while a detailed report from Ucham is needed to justify his absence from office.
“I would like to know whether the leave of absence used has been approved by you as chairperson, and whether you as chairperson do not see such frequent absence from office by the acting CRO as a problem, as it creates a leadership vacuum?” the minister asked.
Although the minister asks hat a response be forwarded to him by May 9, the letter seen by New Era seem to have only been received on May 14, 2018 only, and while Scholtz’s signature can be seen on the letter, he strongly denied having received such a letter.
“I did not receive such a letter, maybe it is still on its way, and if it is a letter then it is an internal memo and I cannot comment on it, but I did not receive any letter,” he said, further asking this journalist “What is the letter saying?”
Meanwhile Ucham, who made a U-turn on his resignation last week, has again written to the council saying he will step down come May 31.