ACC probing demolished hotel

Works deputy minister James Sankwasa wanted the demolition stopped amidst allegations that he had a personal interest in the building.

10 April 2019 | Crime

The head of investigations of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Nelius Becker, has confirmed that the ACC is investigating a N$2.4 million tender awarded to ADDI Investment Africa for the demolition of a hotel in the centre of Okahandja.

This tender award has reportedly caused a major fall-out between works deputy minister James Sankwasa and the ministry's executive director, Willem Goeiemann, while accusations of self-interest and underhanded dealings are being bandied around.

Becker yesterday said the ACC investigation would primarily focus on the allegation that the tender had been irregularly awarded to ADDI Investment.

“It would appear as if there was no competitive bidding, which is in contravention of the new Public Procurement Act. We are also investigating the relationship between the alleged role players in the matter, as well as the tender pricing for a project that really merely ought to have involved the demolition of walls,” Becker said.

Sankwasa reportedly visited the demolition site on Saturday, 9 March and, “as a custodian of government property”, ordered that the work stop immediately. He allegedly called in the police to stop the work.

Judging from video footage circulated on WhatsApp, Sankwasa, who arrived at the site with his official black Mercedes-Benz, questioned how ADDI Investment's invoice could have arrived at the ministry on 6 March and the job was certified on the same day.





The executive director of ADDI Investment, John John, refused to halt the work and demanded a written confirmation that the job must be stopped.

Sankwasa then said he was not going to provide anything in writing but that he would “open a case” against the company.

John then asked Sankwasa whether he had a personal interest in the building. He claimed that it was common knowledge that Sankwasa had visited the premises with Malaysian visitors interested in setting up a university at the town.

NBC Television had earlier reported about the Malaysian visitors from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, who had visited President Hage Geingob at State House where they expressed interest in setting up a university in Namibia in a public-private partnership.

The report stated that the university would carry all the costs of the project.

The Malaysians said during their State House visit that they had visited the headquarters of the National Youth Service (NYS) at Grootfontein, but expressed disappointment about talks having stalled because of alleged bureaucracy and resistance.

They then expressed interest in starting the university at a disused Meatco building, the Epandulo Meat Market, at Okahandja.



ADDI Investment's letter to ACC

ADDI Investment's John wrote a letter to the ACC – which was also circulated on WhatsApp – in which he claimed to have documentary evidence that Sankwasa had visited the Okahandja hotel with the Malaysians.

John claimed an official from the works ministry, a certain Henry Mwoka, had accompanied the delegation.

John further claimed that Sankwasa had promised the Malaysians the use of the hotel, which had been a government property since 1985 but fell into disuse after a fire.

He further claimed that the Namibian high commissioner to Malaysia, Anne Namakau Mutelo, had introduced the Malaysians “as potential business people who need to have business in Namibia”.

“Therefore, it is our understanding that the deputy minister would have followed ministerial procedures to enforce his personal desire to allocate GRN properties to Malaysian private entities,” John's letter to the ACC concluded.

He also claimed that Sankwasa had unprocedurally sourced ADDI Investment's documents from another works ministry official, Nora Masuku.

John alleges a tribal conspiracy since Sankwasa, High Commissioner Mutelo, as well as the two works ministry officials are all from the Zambezi Region.

Mutelo forwarded queries sent to her to Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, executive director in the ministry of international relations and cooperation, for “more clarity and the necessary information on this matter”.

Sankwasa did not respond to questions put to him.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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