Kora one of worst abuse of public resources – NTB

06 July 2021 | Justice

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The Kora All Africa Music Awards court case concerns one of the most far-reaching abuses of a Namibian public entity by a foreign company in its quest to gain access to the public funds at the expense of the plaintiff.

This is according to the Namibia Tourism Board’s (NTB) heads of argument filed at the Windhoek High Court last week after the matter went to trial in April.

The case dates back to September 2016 when the NTB first sued Mundial Telecom Sarl, Kora founder Ernest Adjovi and local organiser Tonata Shiimi for N$23.5 million - plus 20% interest – it had paid for an advertising package which was never broadcast.

Mundial owns the rights to host Kora while Adjovi was the president of the company and Shiimi was the national director of the awards.

Mundial had decided to host the awards ceremony in Namibia on 20 March 2016.

NTB CEO Digu //Naobeb is the only witness to have testified in the case so far.

The court denied an application by Adjovi to testify via Zoom video conferencing.

NTB is arguing that Mundial has no lawful basis to retain the N$23.5 million paid by NTB.

“No evidence whatsoever has been presented by Mundial as to the basis of retaining the funds paid by the NTB and we contend that there is none,” court documents read.

The documents further stated that Mundial opted – at its own risk – not to call any individuals who had first-hand knowledge of the agreement and its implementation as witnesses before the court to controvert NTB’s version.

Government involvement

During the trial, it came to light that the Namibian government, through the tourism ministry, had entered into a US$6 million agreement with Mundial to host the awards show in Namibia, which stipulated that US$2 million must be paid to the company by 11 December 2015.

According to the agreement, should this US$2 million not be secured and paid by that date, the event would not be held and the parties would have no further obligations to one another.

This agreement was signed on 8 November 2015, only a week before an offer was made to the NTB to buy a US$2 million promotional package from Mundial as part of the awards. NTB negotiated it down to US$1.5 million.

//Naobeb argued there was no link between the two agreements.

The advertising deal between NTB and Mundial, signed on 4 December 2015, stipulated that the payment of US$1.5 million should be made by 10 December 2015.

The first payment of N$5 million was made on 22 December and on 17 February the last payment of N$8.5 million was transferred.

Uncontested

“We cannot overstate the fact that the contract… was demonstratively and conclusively not subservient to the alleged ‘national’ agreement between the defendant and the government. Needless to point out that both clearly stipulate that each is the sole memorandum between the parties thereto,” NTB argued.

It said that the entirety of NTB’s case and testimony can be regarded as

uncontested as no witnesses were called and that the court should uphold NTB’s claim for N$23.5 million to be paid.

Closing submissions will be made on 31 August before Judge Herman Oosthuizen.