SME Bank stakeholder want court ruling sped-up

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Selma Ikela

WINDHOEK – An SME Bank stakeholder pleads with government to urge the Supreme Court to speed up the hearing because they need to know who will take over the bank.

Fidel Iipumbu the stakeholder supporting ex-SME Bank staff who demonstrated last week says the Bank closure damaged his business.

“I am owing money and my business has been damaged. I cannot do anything because of the court case,” Iipumbu noted.
Iipumbu stated that if the bank is not liquidated and is returned back in the hands of the minority shareholders, they will sue the bank through their Service Level Agreement (SLA) and attach the bank’s assets if necessary.
“Clients would withdraw their money immediately because the bank will be in further distress. We can never trust them again,” he noted.

Iipumbu invested in the project he collaborated with SME Bank. He said in 2015 they started implementing the project; they set up the system and integrated their system with the bank’s core system.

Iipumbu received a Payment Certificate from Payment Association of Namibia (PAN) as a system operator, SME Bank and Mobitek entered into a service level agreement to provide a fuel card and fleet solution to the public and private clients.

SME Bank was expected to launch the card by Bank of Namibia in April 2017 and was due to launch the product in the same month.

According to Iipumbu, the card would have benefitted the service station owners by eliminating interchange fees charged by international branded cards and fraud associated with the old card system.

However, the project could not be launched after Bank of Namibia placed the bank under curatorship because the banks management unwisely invested about N$ 200 million abroad which remains unaccounted for.
About 208 employees lost their jobs following the bank’s closure.

Iipumbu added that he also found himself in a sinking ship and they learnt about the bank in the media.
In addition, Iipumbu believes government should have owned SME Bank 100 per cent like Agribank and Development Bank of Namibia, which are a major success.

“Government’s idea to create SME Bank was a bright one. Since Namibia does not have any black owned banks like other African countries, it was the right approach to start addressing economic freedom. I am convinced that economic freedom is unattainable without the majority of people participating in key economic infrastructures like banks,” he stated.

He said government as a major shareholder and funder had every right to appoint its own representative at executive management positions like finance to look after peoples’ interest.
“It is painful as a Namibian, black, coloured or white especially those who worked at SME Bank to have our dignity violated by foreigners.”

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