By Albertina Nakale
WINDHOEK- State House yesterday shot down any suggestion that President Hifikepunye Pohamba had influenced the awarding of a National Housing Enterprise (NHE) tender to his daughter – worth about N$15 million.
The presidency also disputes that the tender in question forms part of the mass housing scheme, which President Pohamba launched last year.
Addressing the issue in parliament yesterday after an article that appeared in Confidente last week, Presidential Affairs Minister, Albert Kawana, says the issue has unnecessarily been blown of proportion.
Kawana confirmed that Kaupumhote, the President’s daughter, is a shareholder in Kata Investment, a company she co-owns with Old Mutual boss Johannes !Gawaxab’s daughter, Taschiona.
Kawana said on 6 March 2013, Kata Investment submitted a development proposal to NHE, to develop the housing company’s 71 plots in Otjiwarongo.
NHE bought these plots from the Otjiwarongo Municipality in 2010 for N$1.9 million. Kata Investment was to provide funding through sourcing funds from private financial institutions, the minister said.
“The idea was to build the houses using these funds until the houses are completed.”
THE NHE put out a tender for the construction of houses and Kata was among the applicants, State House said.
“Kata was adjudicated to be the successful tenderer and they received the letter of award on 27 September 2013 before the launch of the mass housing project in November 2013,” Kawana clarified.
Kata only received financial assistance from the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) in December 2013 and that’s when construction of the houses started.
“Contrary to the newspaper article, the NHE tender was never part of the mass housing project to which His Excellency Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba is patron.”
Kawana said at 26, the President’s daughter is an adult who by law is entitled to acquire property individually or with her business partners.
Kawana also used the occasion to dispel allegations that he, in his capacity as Attorney-General, had advised Pohamba to withdraw the mass housing project from under the mandate of the NHE.
“Such legal opinion does not exist,” he said.
Before Kawana issued his statement in parliament yesterday, State House had earlier written a letter to Confidente Editor Max Hamata, asking him to rectify the story published last week.
“The President was not involved and he does not allocate tenders,” the letter, which was also shared with other media houses, stated.
In the letter, the Special Advisor to the President on Media, Mukwaita Shanyengana said the article was “misleading and factually wrong.”
Shanyengana said according to the information from NHE CEO Vinson Hailulu, Kata Investment was awarded the contract by NHE to construct 71 houses in Otjiwarongo, as a Turnkey Solution Project.
“The contract was given according to the normal National Housing Enterprises tender practices and procedures and those are the contractual arrangements that NHE has concluded before with other companies for the past six years,” Shanyengana said.
He further said that every individual, be it a son or daughter of the president, minister or journalist has the right to be in business as an independent person which is “their constitutional right that should not be violated.”
“The president’s children in this regard are grown up men and women who do not need to ask permission from anyone to do business, not even from their parents,” he remarked.
“The Office of the President expresses the hope that you will rectify your story, unless there is a hidden agenda to tarnish the name of the President,” he said.