Armas accused of project theft

Businessman says Swapo leader stole their tobacco idea

12 July 2018 | Local News

Northern businessman Naeman Amalwa, who is also Ondonga king Immanuel Kauluma Elifas' spokesperson, is claiming Swapo Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu stole a controversial N$14 billion tobacco plantation project from him and his business partner.

Amalwa told Namibian Sun he is very disappointed, saying Amukwiyu betrayed them after they trusted and included him in the project, because of his political influence and connections.

He also accused Amukwiyu of later kicking them out of the project, which he has since made his own.

Amukwiyu, however, refuted the allegations, saying Amalwa and his alleged partner are “ghosts” and that he does not know them.

“Everybody is now saying Amukwiyu spent six months in China looking for Chinese investors to set up a tobacco plantation project in the Zambezi Region. This is not true. The truth is that five years ago the Chinese investors approached me and my business partner to help them get a permit to grow tobacco in Namibia,” Amalwa told Namibian Sun this week.

“Because we were not so selfish, we decided to include him (Amukwiyu) in the project, for him to benefit as a comrade, and also to help our project to get the political will, since he is politically-connected and has influence.”

Amalwa, who owns Salina Motor Spares, which does panel beating and trades in vehicle parts at Oniipa, said the three of them partnered with the Chinese to establish Namibia Oriental Tobacco cc, which acquired 10 000 hectares in Zambezi to grow tobacco.

“From there we obtained the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) permit and the Chinese started giving us an allowance, while we were waiting for the operation to start,” he said.

“Towards the end of 2015 the allowance stopped and when we enquired from the Chinese, they told us that they do not need me and my partner anymore, because they now have Amukwiyu who is the key person.

“Since then we have been trying to get hold of Amukwiyu, but he have been avoiding us until today. In the process we heard that he sold our interests to the Chinese for US$5 million that he did not even share (the money) with us.”

He said all their efforts to get hold of Amukwiyu failed and that is why he decided to approach Namibian Sun, so the nation can know the truth about the planned tobacco plantation.





In 2014, the environment ministry awarded an environmental clearance certificate to the project, after an environmental assessment was conducted on the proposed site.

Last month, lands minister Utoni Nujoma reportedly facilitated a cabinet presentation by Namibia Oriental Tobacco cc, which was done by the Chinese investors who are seeking cabinet approval for the project.



'Unfounded'

When contacted for comment, Amukwiyu said all Amalwa's allegations are unfounded and that he does not know him.

He said the project is his own initiative.

“That is rubbish and I do not entertain them. This project started about five years ago and it has been my project from the beginning, but they are only coming out now when they heard that the project was presented to cabinet? Where have they been? I do not know them and to me they are just ghosts coming from nowhere,” Amukwiyu stressed.

He said the project is his brainchild and before he initiated it, he spent a good number of years in China looking for potential investors.

Health minister Bernhard Haufiku has been one of the most vocal opponents of the tobacco project and has called on all Namibians to stand up together and fight the evils of tobacco and alcohol abuse in the country.



ILENI NANDJATO