Dry Christmas as Kunene Regional Council Withholds Staff Salaries

The KUNENE regional council decided to withhold December salaries from its employees after the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development allegedly banned area manager George Kamseb from signing payments and also froze his salary.

Kunene Regional Council chairman Hendrik Gaobaeb told the Namibian on Sunday that the non-payment of wages concerned 120 employees and three regional councilors who are not members of parliament.

One of the affected employees, who declined to be named, said it was a critical time as it is the holiday season when people visit loved ones but cannot travel because they don’t have any money.

“We have families with needs; we have to pay for our water and electricity; we need food to eat and all of these must be paid for by wages, ”said the affected employee.

Some of the affected staff have payments for cars, houses, insurance and other financial obligations, he said, adding that as it stands there will be nothing on their accounts to be deducted by the banks and this imposes a financial burden on the employees. .

“They are punishing innocent employees who are the ones who said they should bring this person back,” the source said.

Gaobaeb also said he did not know when January salaries would be paid because Kamseb, whom they consider their senior regional director, is unable to sign for the payment of salaries after the Development Ministry urban and rural ordered him to stop doing so. because he would not have been appointed according to procedure.

Kamseb was suspended from his full salary in 2016 over allegations of improperly tampering with the bidding process, unauthorized spending of communal funds and the appointment of consultants without regional council approval.

The council reappointed him on June 9 this year after his employment contract ended in 2018. A local daily reported in June that upon his reappointment, Kamseb had pledged to drop all legal action. against the board.

However, the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Erastus Uutoni, last month challenged Kamseb’s reappointment to the High Court.

Gaobaeb said the council has filed an application to oppose the minister’s candidacy in court.

“We communicated with the ministry [asking them] for an audience. They refused but they communicated to our staff members telling them not to process the salary of the regional manager, ”said Gaobaeb.

He added that the council’s decision should only be overturned by a competent court and not by the minister.

Gaobaeb further said the regional council received a letter from the executive director advising them to stop paying the regional director’s salary until the court hearing on January 31.

“If no action is to be taken until the court rules, who should sign for wages now?”

“For us, we are in solidarity with the regional director,” he said.

Kamseb has not been reachable since Saturday.

According to a letter to the executive director of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, Nghidinwa Daniel, on December 22, Kamseb said Daniel was “in the right” and his refusal to grant him an “illegal” salary number.

Elna M. Lemons