President instructs Jooste to probe Namdia

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob has instructed Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste to investigate allegations of wrongdoing at Namdia and other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). Namdia is a state-owned firm established in August last year to sell diamonds worth about N$2 billion per year.

The president has been criticised for being too quiet on the Namdia question after The Namibian newspaper reported that one senior government official revealed that the underpricing of diamonds sold abroad could be costing government about N$1 billion or more per year.

President Geingob yesterday during a press briefing at State House denied turning a blind eye to the issue or the public concerns.

“All these cases have been investigated or are under investigation, so action has been taken and therefore I am not quiet,” he said.

“Let me now turn to perceptions that the president has been quiet on some cases of perceived and alleged corruption and has not taken concrete corrective action. I wish to categorically state that this cannot be further from the truth.”

He then listed ongoing and new cases of alleged corruption or wrongdoing, including older cases such as the Avid Social Security case, the Offshore Development Company, the Development Capital Portfolio of the GIPF, the KORA music awards case, as well as the allegations of deliberate underpricing swirling about Namdia.

The president said plainly that sitting passively and turning a blind eye to wrongdoing is tantamount to aiding corruption. He said the government has never ignored wrongdoing and insisted that all these cases were being attended to and would follow the due process of law.

“I do agree with the saying that justice delayed is justice denied and we must, therefore, do more to strengthen and streamline our processes, systems and institutions to ensure that justice is meted out in a timely fashion. In this regard, we are committed to ensuring that our judicial system is adequately resourced to expeditiously attend to matters of wrongdoing,” Geingob noted.

He said decisive action had been taken, demonstrating the government’s resolve to fight corruption. These measures include the cancellation of the N$7 billion Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrading tender, despite the urgent need to upgrade the airport. Further, he noted the launch of an investigation into the National Oil Storage Facility.

He said action would be taken against officials implicated in wrongdoing, adding that civil and criminal action was being considered against those suspected to have knowingly misled the government. He also noted that investigations into tax evasion and money laundering are ongoing and from recent reports appear to be gaining momentum.

“I ask again if the president was not serious about fighting corruption [as alleged], why did he not intervene to protect his so-called friend? I reiterate that the law must be allowed to take its course without fear or favour, and that was done in this case and many other cases… the records are there.”

He said he was thrown onto the frontline and had dedicated himself fully to executing the assignment entrusted to him.

“We do anticipate headwinds and unforeseen challenges that will make it difficult to achieve some of our targets. However, at this stage, we are moving in the right direction. We continue to monitor the plan and will, where necessary, adjust our approach to ensure a higher success rate by the end of the four-year period.”

Further, he said the way Cabinet members have embraced performance contracting and performance management is laudable and said he was pleased that Cabinet members continue to manage perceived conflicts of interest through asset and income declarations.

“The psyche of Cabinet has changed. Keeping time is one such matter. Our decision-making Cabinet meetings do not last longer than one hour, unless there are unexpected issues of national interest we may discuss. What is pleasing is that this new paradigm has been cascaded to some offices, ministries and agencies,” he remarked.

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