The former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, has written to President Hage Geingob asking him to intervene in a bid to buy State-owned property in Swakopmund.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Frans Kapofi, confirmed during a telephonic interview with New Era this week that Gurirab wrote to the president seeking intervention, but Kapofi declined to divulge further details.
He said Gurirab wrote the letter after his term as Speaker ended in March. “Yes Comrade Gurirab wrote to the president to seek intervention, but I cannot say what is contained in the letter.”
Kapofi also said that the president cannot intervene in the matter due to the dictates of government structures. “This is not about the president having to intervene,” he said. “There are procedures that must be followed, and as you know, the separation of powers amongst organs of the State will not give the president the power to give instructions so that the house can be sold to the former Speaker,” Kapofi said.
“That property belongs to the National Assembly. But still, even they do not have the power to sell the property to the former Speaker,” he said.
Gurirab had earlier acquired his huge Klein Windhoek property – previously owned by the State – through the government’s alienation scheme. It remains unclear whether he wants to buy the Swakopmund house under the same scheme.
He declined on Monday to disclose whether he wants to buy the house through the alienation scheme: “Why would that be a problem for me? Is it illegal for me to think about that? Am I violating the Constitution or am I trying to fool the government to break the law?” Gurirab asked.
“If I am doing something I am not entitled to do, why would that be a problem to me? It should be the problem of whoever I am engaging,” charged Gurirab, who previously also served as prime minister.
“I did not steal anything. If the law prohibits me to do that [buy the house] then it will not happen,” Gurirab said. He said his plan to buy the house in Swakopmund was “raised in parliament in a wrong way”.
Gurirab’s plan was discussed in the National Assembly last month when the leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani asked Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to confirm whether Gurirab is in the process of acquiring the Swakopmund property.
The DTA president also wanted to know the market value of the property, as well as government’s policy on officials acquiring more than one property under the alienation scheme.
Kapofi earlier said: “If the National Assembly does not see any use for the property, they should return it to the Ministry of Works and Transport, and if there is no interest to buy the house from the occupants at the time, then the house can be sold through public auction.”
Government houses sold under the alienation scheme are sold below market value and occupants of such houses, usually government employees, receive the preferential first right of refusal to buy the houses.
Gurirab left parliament this year after he failed to make it onto the list of parliamentary candidates following Swapo Party’s electoral college last year. His retirement from parliament became inevitable when he also did not make it onto the list of eight non-voting members appointed by the president.