Bribes linked to fishing job losses

Amid the rotting stench of corruption, linked to alleged N$150 million in bribes paid by a Scandinavian fishing company for Namibian fishing quotas, two cabinet ministers fell on their swords yesterday. But the political fallout is just beginning.

14 November 2019 | Local News


Bribery allegations that led to the abrupt resignations yesterday of justice minister Sacky Shanghala and his fisheries counterpart Bernard Esau may have robbed thousands of families livelihoods through job losses in the fishing industry.

The two controversial ministers were – according to sources – to be fired by President Hage Geingob yesterday, but moved a step ahead of their appointing authority by tendering their immediate resignations.

They are being linked to an international scandal involving Iceland’s biggest fishing company, Samherji, which allegedly secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibian waters by paying bribes of up to N$150 million to politicians and officials in Namibia between 2012 and 2018.

Both ministers have denied wrongdoing.

It is believed many players in the Namibian fishing industry, including Namsov which was once one of the leading employers in that sector, dubiously lost thousands of tonnes in quotas, leading to such companies scaling down on their operations and consequently retrenching workers.

Samherji on the other hand remained in business, with claims it continued to accumulate quotas through what is now believed to be underhand dealings.

The Icelandic company, in a statement issued yesterday, said: “We were very disappointed to learn that Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former managing director of Samherji's operations in Namibia, appears to have been involved in questionable business practices and possibly entangled Samherji in activities that may be illegal.”

Geingob has appointed attorney-general Albert Kawana as fisheries minister, while home affairs minister Frans Kapofi replaces Shanghala at justice.

Shanghala yesterday denied claims that he was involved in any wrongdoing with regard to the stink emanating from the allegations linked to Icelandic firm SAMHERJI.

Esau also distanced himself from the scandal, saying evidence would have to be provided to show that he was in the wrong.

“They must prove [it] and further I see all [of it] as propaganda (sic).”

According to international reports, politicians and officials in Namibia who allegedly took bribes from Samherji are Esau, Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, who worked as consultant for Samherji, James Hatukulipi, the chairman of the board of state-owned company Fishcor and Sacky Shanghala, the country’s current justice minister and former attorney general. The fifth individual implicated is Mike Nghipunya, the CEO of Fishcor.

Icelandic whistle-blower, Jóhannes Stefánsson, who is said to be working with authorities to expose the rot, was fired by SAMHERJI. He was the company’s Namibian representative.

Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji, said in statement: “We were very disappointed to learn that Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former managing director of Samherji's operations in Namibia, appears to have been involved in questionable business practices and possibly entangled Samherji in activities that may be illegal.”

Stefánsson was fired from his position in Namibia in 2016 because of mismanagement and unacceptable behaviour, Samherji said.

Investec MD Hatuikulipi was not available for comment despite efforts to reach him.

Before his resignation was revealed yesterday afternoon, Esau said evidence would have to be presented that he erred in his duties as fisheries minister.

“I need proof if I am or was corrupt in my actions as minister,” he said.

The political drama overshadowed a State House meeting with a Bulgarian delegation yesterday morning.

Geingob, when cornered at State House, avoided commenting on the issue.

“Og, we will get back to you,” he said, before waving Namibian Sun away.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa said they have been investigating the matter for longer than a year and have engaged authorities of affected countries such as Angola.

Noa, however, is not convinced that the video clip which shows how Esau allegedly accepted a cash bribe is enough proof to take the matter to court.

“Yes, you have seen a minister on camera, but that is not enough in court. It is not enough. For you to submit this you must be able to authenticate and should have someone who is able to confirm that such a thing took place and where it took place.

“The video clip could be part of the evidence and I cannot tell you whether we have some other pictures as well,” he said.

Fishcor CEO Nghipunya, who had been fingered as having received a bribe by Icelandic publication Stundin said he did not know why he was mentioned.

“I don’t even know why they listed my name, because I never received any bribe,” he said in a text message.

According to Noa the investigation has been delayed because they have received snippets of information from time to time.

He is also not sure at this point how long the investigation will take.

“Previously that information (WikiLeaks) was not provided to the ACC. It was only this year that we received that information and we have engaged stakeholders and we are in contact with other authorities involved to establish the credibility of what is being alleged and verify the allegations with some documentary proof,” Noa said.

He said they are trying to establish how the agreement was struck between the Namibian and Angolan fisheries ministries, and whether it was done corruptly or done above-board.

Norway’s anti-graft body, Økokrim, was also pursuing the case, while the matter had been reported to the district attorney’s office in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Police chief, Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, said he is not aware of the matter.

“I am not investigating that case,” he said.


It is not the first time Shanghala has been embroiled in a scandal, but has always seemed to bounce back. He was also implicated in the Kora awards scandal in which the Namibian government lost N$24million.

Shanghala has also been maligned for questionable payments of N$47 million to United Kingdom lawyers for legal advice linked to the German genocide reparation talks.

Too late for tears

Political analyst Kamwanyah Ndumba said the whole scandal is certainly damaging to the ruling party and the current administration, but the reality is that Shanghala and Esau have resigned.

However, this could create a negative public perception that Geingob was not man enough to deal with them.

“He has taken long; it is public knowledge that he (Shanghala) has been involved in dubious dealings for long. It will not be a good message for the president’s campaign that he did not fire them, unless they resigned before he could fire them,” he said.

Constitutional expert Dr Nico Horn said it may be “too late for tears” for Swapo, who do not have enough time to deal with the scandal hanging over their heads right now, as the 27 November general election is around the corner.

According to Horn the fishing scandal, which has been simmering without action from the president, will certainly impact the party’s performance during the elections.

“The fact that the video of Mr Esau is being spreading so widely, even if no corruption can be proven afterwards, it would still have a damaging impact on Swapo. Again it is very late in the campaign; it could certainly be possibly more damaging to the government, because there is no time to discuss the issue and to change perceptions,” Horn added.

[email protected]

[email protected]

Similar News


Lack of City quorum stalls Covid plan

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKWindhoek has come to a standstill following heated political fights and the...

Thikusho’s contract extended until retirement

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Local News

Kenya Kambowe RUNDUThe Kavango East Regional Council has extended the contract of its chief regional officer, Ludwig Thikusho (58), by a further 18 months,...

We just wanna talk, veterans tell Geingob

3 days ago - 29 July 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEK In a recent petition to President Hage Geingob, the Peter Nanyemba Former Combatant Veterans Trust says government should come...

Ignore NIPDB recalls, Iipumbu tells commercial counsellors

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKTrade minister Lucia Iipumbu has told commercial counsellors serving at various Namibian embassies abroad to disregard the decision by the Namibia Investment Promotion Development...

‘Baboon’ incident causes uproar at Outjo

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKA group of black visitors to Etotongwe Lodge in Outjo said they were called ‘baboons’ and assaulted during a stand-off...

Wheels in motion to elect Mbanderu chief

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKThe Ovambanderu Traditional Authority (OvTA) has kick-started the process to elect a...

Kavango East N$141m dairy farm a white elephant

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

Kenya Kambowe RUNDUIt’s been nine years since the revamp of the N$141 million...

N$5.7m sewer system for Ongwediva’s Sky informal settlement

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

TUNOHOLE MUNGOBAONGWEDIVAThe Ongwediva town council has awarded a N$5.7 million tender for sewer reticulation at Sky Phase 1, an informal settlement in eastern side of...

Nedbank supports Kavango East computer literacy programme

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUNedbank Namibia this month sponsored two laptops valued at N$11 000 to support the ministry of information, communication and technology’s basic computer literacy programme...

Oshana Region strives for sport development

4 days ago - 28 July 2021 | Local News

TUNOHOLE MUNGOBAONGWEDIVALeaders in the Oshana Region have embarked on a quest to create a number of sporting facilities for the youth.This is according to Oshana...

Latest News

On the brink of burnout?...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Business

Selma Shilunga 1. Talking about your feelings is importantWe often keep our true feelings bottled up, saying “I’m fine”, even when we’re really not....

Kristofine Itembu proves that the...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHailing from Onankali village in the Oshikoto Region and raised in the dusty streets of Soweto in Katutura, the career-driven Kristofine Itembu remains humble...

Pensioner loses N$50k to scammers...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Crime

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI A 60-year-old retired teacher lost N$50 000 to scammers who pretended to be police officers on Monday...

Ex-general implicated in Ekandjo’s missing...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Justice

Kenya Kambowe RUNDUFormer minister Jerry Ekandjo’s name has surfaced in court as one of the possible victims in a stock theft case in which former...

South Africa plans billions in...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Economics

ALEXANDER WINNING AND WENDELL ROELFSouth Africa plans about R36 billion of relief measures to support businesses and individuals affected by unrest this month and by...

The man who works fast...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Business

Sono Kahuure runs the network escalations department at Paratus Namibia and is the keyholder to unlocking solutions for his customers. Sono is the go-to man...

Taking sports development to the...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | People

Mariselle Stofberg Powerful play From growing up in the dusty streets of Okuryangava, Titus Mwahafa’s passion for sport and sports development has driven him...

“I imagined a better life...

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Business

Desiree GasesTST was founded in 2012 and is a full-service advertising and market research company combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to deliver rich, operational, and...

EDITORIAL: Fix Windhoek’s leadership mess

2 days ago - 30 July 2021 | Opinion

Windhoek is without political leadership. But that’s not the saddest part. The fact that, for a week, nothing concrete has been hammered out to restore...

Load More