Shafudah rejects oil storage accusations

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek-Finance permanent secretary Ericah Shafudah yesterday said the ‘final written warning’ letter she received from secretary to cabinet George Simataa has no basis in law as she was not given a chance to be heard as is procedure under the country’s laws.

She also strongly rejected the picture being painted of her as an incompetent and negligent person. She received a final written warning letter last week over her alleged role in the national oil storage facility project, whose cost has risen from N$3.8 billion in 2014 to N$5.5 billion in 2016.

Shafudah, in a statement issued late yesterday, maintained she had given the correct advice on the matter to the technical committee and to relevant authorities, a point she said she can provide proof of.

“It is common logic that in a democratic society any person accused of any offence is considered innocent until proven guilty through a court of law or a disciplinary process duly conducted,” she said.

She said findings into the investigation against her alleged misdemeanour were not availed to her so that she can state her counter-argument.

“I was not given a chance to be heard, as provided for in the Namibian Constitution,” she stressed.

In the warning letter, which has been a hit on social media, Simataa said if Shafudah were found to have committed the same offence in the future, formal disciplinary measures would be taken against her.

It could not be confirmed whether Shafudah appeared before any disciplinary hearing before being issued with a final written warning, as is procedure. When New Era called her to confirm this yesterday, she elected not to shed any light on it.

The embattled permanent secretary said her input on the deliberations regarding the oil storage facility tender – which included that the cost be calculated in Namibian currency – was in fact endorsed as legally correct.

“I presented this position to the technical committee in writing,” she said.
“This consistent position that I have always maintained has also been acknowledged as legally correct in the purported ‘final written warning’ letter that is circulating in the media and social networks,” she said.

In a letter to Shafudah last week, Simataa said he concluded that her failure to attend meetings of the technical committee, of which she was an integral member, had “contributed to the development of a situation detrimental and prejudicial to government”. Shafudah yesterday said she has attended the committee meeting whenever she was invited, and tendered a formal apology when she was unable to attend.

The warning is valid for 12 months.

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