Kahimise questions illegal council meeting in court
05 May 2020 | Government
An urgent application brought by Windhoek municipality CEO Robert Kahimise accusing councillors and management committee members of holding illegal meetings last week and irregularly appointing an acting CEO, is being heard in the Windhoek High Court today.
Kahimise is asking the court to set aside all decisions and resolutions taken at a management committee and heated council meeting held last week, which according to multiple sources included the extension of the contract of City Police chief Abraham Kanime.
“Despite having given the council members a clear warning of their unlawful conduct and requesting them to desist from holding a council meeting in the circumstances, it would appear that they nonetheless proceeded to hold such a meeting,” Kahmise’s founding affidavit notes.
The last-minute council meeting was called by City Police officer Paukeni Titus, who had been appointed as acting city CEO the day before in a move that was called irregular by Kahimise and others.
The meeting immediately erupted into several hours of chaos.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor Brunhilde Cornelius and Ignatius Semba of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) forcefully questioned the legality of the meeting and the appointment of Titus as acting CEO during the volatile meeting.
Before the meeting, Cornelius and Semba had opened a police complaint underlining that a council meeting was not crucial and would violate Covid-19 regulations around public gatherings.
On the same day, Kahimise’s lawyers wrote to Mayor Fransina Kahungu saying they were informed of the appointment of Titus, highlighting that the designation of an acting CEO without Kahimise being unable to perform his duties was irregular.
“It is respectfully submitted that the CEO is not absent, and neither is he unable to perform his functions and duties.”
Titus, who had on Tuesday called for the council meeting to take place, despite an earlier instruction by Kahimise that the council meeting be postponed to 7 May, after the lockdown was ended, was thus illegal, as his appointment was irregular, the court papers argue.
Moreover, Kahimise’s affidavit notes that the public council meeting constituted a public gathering and was “a stark contravention of the regulations.”
Kahimise underlined that he was only made aware of the decision by Kahungu and others to hold the council meeting a day before the slated meeting.
He took immediate steps to obtain legal advice and notified council members that the meeting would be illegal, but was ignored.
He argues further that as the accounting officer of the municipality, he is now liable to be held criminally accountable for the action of the councillors, and has been exposed to disciplinary sanctions for negligent conduct.
Kahimise notes that he informed the Namibian police of the intended meeting and asked them to halt it. He also notified the minister of rural and urban development.
High Court judge Kobus Miller is presiding.