Chaos erupts at Windhoek council meeting
30 April 2020 | Government
An explosive City of Windhoek council meeting held yesterday afternoon stagnated for hours over a heated dispute between councillors over the legality of the meeting amid the state of emergency regulations on gatherings.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Brunhilde Cornelius and Ignatius Semba of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) insisted at the start of the meeting that legal advice first be sought before the meeting continue.
Opponents meanwhile argued that the meeting was in line with regulations.
Two hours after the council meeting began at 14:00, the dispute was ongoing behind closed doors, after journalists had been asked to leave one hour into the heated meeting for councillors to find a resolution on the matter.
At times the meeting erupted into chaotic shouting and personal attacks that veered from the question of the legality of the meeting and other items questioned by those present.
According to Cornelius and Semba the monthly council meeting should have remained scheduled for next week, as per a memorandum issued last week by city CEO Robert Kahimise who had rescheduled all meetings until after the lockdown period is set to be lifted.
As per the council agenda for the meeting, items up for discussion included staff matters, consent to operate a bed and breakfast establishment among other matters.
However, multiple sources confirmed that the primary reason the council meeting was pushed to be held, was to discuss and approve the extension of city police chief Abraham Kanime's contract, whose last day official day on the job is today (30 April).
The sources noted that although the council meeting was ostensibly held on Wednesday, with less than 24-hour warning, to discuss the council meeting agenda that was already finalised some weeks ago, the issue of Kanime was the paramount reason.
Kanime resigned in January, giving three months’ notice. In the meantime, however, he was offered to extend his contract for a further three years.
The decision to bring the meeting forward was made less than 24-hours before the start of the meeting as per a memorandum signed by acting city CEO Pahukeni Titus. Semba stressed yesterday that as per protocol, council meetings have to be announced 72 hours or more prior to a meeting. He insisted that legal advisors should also clarify on this matter.
Before the 14h00 meeting today, Semba and Cornelius opened a case with the Namibian police against Titus for violating the state of emergency regulations around gatherings.
By late last night it was unclear whether the police had begun to investigate the meeting as per the case opened with them during the morning.