WINDHOEK – RCC board chairman Fritz Jacobs, who tendered his resignation yesterday amidst Cabinet’s threats to fire him, said the contentious N$580 million self-funding agreement with China’s Nantong Sanjian was borne out of a Cabinet directive issued in November 2017.
A Cabinet letter dated November 10, 2017 said the Executive has “authorised that the Roads Contractor Company follows the accelerated process to conclude suitable funding, which will not rely on government guarantees,
but focused on self-sustainable solutions.” The ministry of work’s permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann on November 24 submitted a letter to Jacobs, with instruction: “Please find attached a copy of the resolution from Cabinet for your soonest implementation and realisation of the decision.”
A legal opinion sought by the RCC board on the matter suggests that both Cabinet and the line ministry (works and transport) had ordered the company to clinch a funding deal – a directive the board says it has fully complied with.
Cabinet on Monday said the RCC board must be fired because its agreement with the Chinese firm was not approved by the line minister and was concluded without the Attorney-General’s input.
This, government argued, constituted the basis to annul the agreement with Nantong Sanjian and to fire the board.
Goeiemann’s instruction for the RCC board to implement the Cabinet resolution on self-funding seems to have landed him in trouble too, after Cabinet ordered its secretary, George Simataa, to institute disciplinary action against the permanent secretary.
The two remaining RCC board members – chairman Fritz Jacobs and Elsie Skrywer – yesterday moved fast to tender their resignations before a Cabinet directive to fire them could be effected.
While three other board members had resigned earlier, Jacobs and Skrywer held on to their positions until the very last bullet is spent – saying the deal with Nantong Sanjian was above board and well-intended.
The state-owned civil engineering company, RCC, has ceased operations and has sent its 400 workers home, as government prepares an application to place it under judicial management. Judicial management is defined as a method of debt restructuring whereby an independent judicial manager is appointed to manage the affairs, business and property of a company under financial distress. As of March 2018, N$42 million has been drawn from government’s emergency fund to pay salaries to RCC employees, according to official documents tabled in the National Assembly earlier this year.
The self-funding agreement between RCC and Nantong Sanjian was for the Chinese company to avail a N$580 million loan to the former, in return for a stake in RCC’s projects.
Media reports in recent weeks suggested the Chinese firm’s stake would amount to over N$2 billion in revenues.
But Jacobs said yesterday that the self-funding agreement, if supported and not ridiculed, would have helped resuscitate the company and secure the livelihood of the employees and their families.
“The self-sustaining funding solution is a milestone for RCC. The board expressed itself that the funding is sufficient and adequate to normalise the operations of RCC,” he noted.
Jacobs said if RCC gets liquidated as mooted in some corridors of government offices, the country’s dream of industrialising in the next 12 years, by 2030, would be a farce.