Is Long-Serving Treasurer the Sole Owner of NANCA?

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William J. Mbangula Oshakati Some disgruntled members of the Namibia National Construction Association (NANCA) have accused some of their leadership of being autocratic. The group spokesperson, Shatimwene Erastus Kalola, told New Era they have become constant victims of abuse and discrimination after they questioned the use of financial resources by the association. Sketching the background to the turmoil in NANCA, Kalola noted that prior to a general meeting on November 13, 2004, a group of dissatisfied NANCA members held a consultative meeting to find a common position with regard to fighting corruption, nepotism and discrimination within the association. It appears that some members of the leadership were not happy about the meeting because they suspected it was another way of undermining their authority. At the general meeting of November 13, 2004, Kalola was elected chairperson of NANCA, but this was short-lived. He was later suspended, and finally dismissed. Apparently this was done under the pretext that he did not obtain the votes in the meeting fairly, since he could have manipulated some members prior to the election through what was considered a clandestine meeting. In January 2005, all members who attended a meeting regarded as unofficial were suspended during a meeting held at Oshana Regional Council offices. The suspended members were: Lazarus Shafuda, Epafras Nghinamundova, Nestor Lukileni, Michael Shelungu, Immanuel Shipanga, Quima Denyau, Erastus Shatimwene Kalola, Moses Thomas, Erasmus Haushona, Phillip Amwele and David Nabod. According to Kalola, the main cause of conflict in NANCA is the long-serving treasurer, Ben Zaaruka of Benz Building Supplies, who has been in the same position since 1991. Although he carries the official title of treasurer, Zaaruka is accused of being the sole owner of NANCA. It is alleged that no financial reports were presented to the members for the past seven years. Apparently some cheques were issued by him without the knowledge of some members, which has raised concern among members. Kalola cited a N$20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 cheque dated August 20, 2003 which was allegedly to be donated to the family of a deceased Zambian national who was a public servant in Namibia, a certain Gordon employed in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications. A delegation of four people consisting of Kalola, Demetrius Kambalala, Simeon Shikulo and Paulinus Hangula, NANCA’s General Secretary, were sent to Zambia to attend his funeral and to hand over a cash amount of N$12ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 to the deceased’s family. It is unclear what happened to N$8ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 of the original N$20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 for which the cheque was issued. It is alleged that the trip to the neighbouring country cost about N$40ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. Kalola and his group are also questioning another cheque, dated May 3, 2001 in the amount of N$9ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 142.50 issued to cover the travel expenses to South Africa of Miriam Onesmus, an employee of the Ministry of Finance, and the secretary of the Tender Board, Zaaruka and Ben Kathindi, an under-secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications. Furthermore, NANCA issued a cheque of N$85ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 756.54 on April 30, 2001 to Zaaruka’s company known as B+A Construction apparently for construction work done at Omauni in Ohangwena Region. A certain M. Mukwaita benefited from NANCA money on August 31, 2004 after being paid N$8ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 800 for what was called sub-construction work. Again, the group alleged that N$11ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 714 was paid for the travel expenses to Zambia of Ronnie Kandombo, an inspector of buildings in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, and under-secretary Kathindi. Following what they consider to be unfair treatment by NANCA, the disgruntled members are now demanding payment of the money they contributed as members. It has been standard procedure that whenever NANCA acquired a tender, 5 percent of the total income paid by the government would go to the coffers of the association. This is the contribution being demanded by the unhappy members. Discrimination and nepotism are alleged to be the order of the day at NANCA. The unhappy members claim they were denied the right to participate in the construction of the close-to N$50 million Mwadikange Kaulinge Secondary School at Ondobe, which was completed recently. Another concern is the fact that more than five years after the construction of the Negumbo Secondary School in Omusati Region, which cost about N$15 million, some of the contractors have not been paid their due expenses. It is alleged that clandestine activities are currently under way to deny them participation in the construction of another secondary school at Omuntele in Oshikoto Region. Kalola noted that their concerns hd been reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) but that so far no feedback was forthcoming. When contacted for comment, NANCA spokesperson, Michael Heita, said he was in a meeting. When phoned after the agreed time, his cell phone was off.