By Simon Liseli
Contractors who were awarded a tender to construct houses at Bukalo Village Council, want the anti-corruption commission (ACC) to investigate the missing N$2.3 million after they were not paid for the last 2 years.
Sinjala Construction Company and residents of Bukalo have sparked angers about the N$2.3 million Namibian dollars that was meant to complete and renovate 18 build together houses at Bukalo.
The constructors together with the community are annoyed with councillors who are failing to explain the whereabouts of the missing funds at Bukalo Village Council (BVC) two years ago.
Irritated constructors are in limbo and concerned about the community members who are employed by the company, and not paid up to date.
According to Mr.Patalazo Sinjala, owner of Sinjala Construction Company told Caprivi Vision that the issue was reported to the labour office in Katima Mulilo where they were advised to open a civil case against BVC.
It is alleged that BVC town planner, councillors and its management are suspected to have been misused developmental funds for build together project.
“We wonder why councilors are failing to conduct a meeting to highlight the community about the money that is missing. An immediate investigation by the anti-corruption commission has to be carried out as soon as possible and auditors to complete their final auditing” said Sinjala.
Contractors have requested the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development with other line ministries including SWAPO party to dismiss the current Councillors as they are suspected to be involved in the embezzlement scandal, and they do not want to make it clear to community members.
The N$2.3 million was transferred into BVC account on 18 October 2018 by the Zambezi Regional Council for completion and renovations of 18 build together houses at Bukalo which was meant to benefit locals.
“Government pumps money for development but responsible people misuse the funds, if we compare Bukalo with Nkurenkuru village council there is a big difference. We also request the ministry to investigate BVC tender board on how they award their tenders because according to labour law first priorities are for the locals unless they do not qualify is when they invite outsiders”.
The community is surprised of the suspension of one council staff member who was the town planner Mr. Martin Mate Sanjahi on the same issue of missing funds but was released on a bail of N$5000 and currently on suspension without pay.
Privy sources told this paper that several meetings were held with the CEO and councillors, where they agreed to pay constractors of Bukalo Build Together Project on February 10, 2020 but all went in vain.
They said, Chief Executive Officer Mr. Martin Limbo upon his reinstatement after suspension arranged several meetings to address constructors over the issue of not being paid for the past two (2) years, but councillors were not turning up for those several meetings , and that prompted constructors to open a civil case with the labour office and now intends to sue the council with over half a million dollars with interests.
However, Chief Executive Officer for Bukalo Village Council Mr. Limbo who was on suspension by the time of hiring constructors clarified that the money that was due for the project was misappropriated by the town planner Mr. Sanjahi who is currently on suspension without pay as from the 7th of January 2020, and part of the materials were also misappropriated by one council member by the name of Mr. Luis Matomola.
He said that the police case has been opened against him with regard to some of the materials like cement and the ministry has turned doors on Bukalo project because of funds that were misappropriated that were not accountable.
Mr. Limbo pointed out that 18 houses that are not finalised are currently standing and a number of labourers are not yet paid.
“We also got information that the technical team department of Nsundano Secondary School where a council member called Luis Matomola who was the school principal was also hired to build some of the houses, the council paid but instead of paying into Nsundano school account we don’t know where they paid this money because Nsundano indicated that they never received the money may be it was paid to the principal in his pocket or another account” explained Mr. Limbo.
According to reports an amount of more than N$30 000 was refunded to Mr. Sanjahi and did not surrender the money to council but he misappropriate it, a police case was opened against him leading to his arrest and made his first appearance in Ngoma district magistrates court on a charge of fraud and was granted bail of N$5000 whereas the case was postponed to April 15, 2020 for further investigations.
“He is currently facing a criminal case and a displinary matter with the council. He failed to account on N$2.3 million that was transferred of which N$2.1 million was transferred by Zambezi Regional Council for purposes of Bukalo continuing with build together program because by that time it was still administered by the Regional Council as it was still a settlement” said Limbo.
In October 2017 file and monies were handed to BVC to continue with the program and instead of councilors advertise the tender to constructors and purchasing of materials, the planner Sanjahi decided to run the program alone, the procurement and council management committee were not involved, the planner acted alone and in November 2019 he failed to provide the audit team with any invoice for the materials he purchased.
Bukalo Council CEO stressed that some of the houses built there are not accountable as there are no receipts and delivery invoices, and builders are not paid to date because they were not appointed by the council but Mr. Sanjahi himself signed appointment letters without authorisation from the council and no contract was signed between the council and builders.
“He wrote letters and appointed them in his office as planner while the council was run by acting CEO Ms. Naomi Karupa, and that is the reason why the council distanced itself from those appointments because it has nothing to do with council because the person who was supposed to do that was the acting CEO by then but in this case constructors were appointed from streets by Mr. Sanjahi and no advertisement was carried out the whole issue was known between him and Matomola” he quashed.
Mr. Limbo further said they have requested the ministry if they can give them more funds to pay builders but the ministry has indicated to the council that they are not willing to pay because the contract of employment were not signed between the council and the ministry and appointment letter of builders were not signed by the CEO or acting CEO but by Sanjahi as a planner.
Contacted for more on the alleged case opened against Councillor Matomola at Ngoma police station, investigation officers at Ngoma referred this reporter to speak to the deputy commissioner and crime investigation coordinator Mr. Evans Simasiku because they are not authorised to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, Mr. Simasiku refuted to confirm saying, “Am not aware of such case tell the officers who referred you to call me” he said.
Nampol Regional Commander for Zambezi Karel Theron also said he was not aware of the corrupt case.
The accused Bukalo Village Council Chairperson, Councillor Matomolo referred all queries to the CEO and hang his phone when he was asked for feedback.