GOBABIS - The Municipality of Gobabis has served its suspended strategic executive for human resources and corporate services, Frieda Shimakeleni, with 25 charges, after a two-year hiatus to allow investigations, in a string of alleged violations.
Shimakeleni and five other employees remain on suspension, albeit with full remuneration since May and August 2021 for allegedly disobeying or disregarding work-related orders, revealing confidential information about the municipal council to unauthorised persons and interfering or tampering with evidence in an unrelated investigation, among others.
The suspended employees include electrical services manager Johannes Nantuua, human resource manager Ashipala Shilemba, finance and procurement manager Fillemon Makili, IT technician Paul Kayambu and IT officer Kondjeni Nghiwanapo.
The technical department’s strategic executive, John Endjala who escaped suspension by remaining on duty has since also been served with charges, according to chairperson of the council Sylvester Binga, which council also deem as “very serious”.
The charges come amid an ongoing lawsuit in which the employees are seeking to be reinstated on the grounds that the charges are purportedly political and tribal – as they are all affiliates of the ruling Swapo party and all from a single ethnic group.
According to them, a number of employees of the council who are of Oshiwambo and who are members of Swapo, were victimised by the erstwhile CEO based on their ethnic origin.
They, however, suffered a setback in their quest to nullify their suspensions after High Court judge Hosea Angula dismissed their urgent application in Novermer 2021, citing a lack of urgency.
They subsequently lodged an appeal whose judgement is set to be heard on 24 February 2023.
Shimakeleni, in a telephonic interview with New Era on Thursday, expressed shock at the delay before the new charges were promulgated, saying it is very suspicious.
“It is victimisation, because you cannot suspend a person for two years and then start looking for something. My hearing is in the first week of May. I mean [I am charged with] under-performance, I don’t know, when I saw those charges I knew these people are trying to push me out, [of employment],” a clearly irate Shimakeleni emphasised.
“I will clear my name,” she stressed when quizzed on the nature of the charges which she vehemently refused to divulge to New Era upon request.
On his part, Endjala confirmed receipt of a notice depicting 16 charges, which he also refused to shed any light on.
“I received the charges, but [as far as] going into detail, I will not comment at this moment,” he said.
However, no specific date has been set for his disciplinary hearing, he informed New Era.
Meanwhile, Binga says charges and subsequent disciplinary hearings of the rest of the employees will be instituted in phases on the probability of seriousness.
“We started with the two due to the seriousness of the charges,” he said, before saying: “However, it does not mean the others are less serious.”
Binga also refused to divulge the list of charges against Shimakeleni and Endjala, citing confidentiality.
The Municipality of Gobabis forked-out a whopping N$6.3 million last year in salaries to Shimakeleni, Nantuua, Shilemba, Makili, Kayambu and Nghiwanapo while they were sitting idle at home.
This figure, which excludes Eendjala’s hefty perks by virtue of his job, is set to exceed N$12.6 million if they all remain on suspension by mid-year.
Kaipaherue Kandjii is freelancing