China denies Swapo HQ link

Swapo companies were approached to contribute from their investments.

11 June 2019 | Politics

The Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, has denied media reports that the Chinese government will provide funds for the construction of the new Swapo Party head office.

A report in The Namibian cited unidentified sources as saying that the Chinese government would provide funds for the N$730 million construction project, presumably because Swapo does not have enough money to start the project.

Yiming last week said these allegations were “baseless”.

“The Chinese government will not give money for the Swapo Party head office. We have a clear-cut policy of non-interference,” Yiming said when asked whether the funding of such a project could be construed as political interference or currying favour with the ruling party.

“Do they want to tarnish our image over irresponsible reporting?” Yiming asked about the media reports.

Yiming emphatically maintained: “We [the Chinese government] do not offer any support to any political party for similar projects. Details can be enquired from the office of the Swapo Party.”

The N$730 million construction tender for the project was awarded to a Chinese firm, Unik Construction Engineering, which also caused a furore among Namibians who felt the lucrative contract should have been given to a local company.

The embassy said the project was “purely a commercial one”, stressing that neither the embassy nor the Chinese government had any involvement in the tender award.



Swapo companies asked to cough up

Swapo's department of economic affairs earlier this year instructed at least eight Swapo companies to liquidate N$313 million of their combined investments of N$417.6 million for the project.

Swapo's secretary of economic affairs, Alpheus !Naruseb, stated in a letter that this decision was made at a politburo meeting on 30 January, and called on the companies to urgently act on the instruction. The companies approached were Kalahari Holdings (N$150 million), Kudu Investment (N$10 million), New Dawn (N$3 185.59), Zebra Investments (N$5 million), Guinas Investments (N$16 million), Ceret (N$15 million), Namibia Protection Services (N$50 million), and N$67 million from a nominee shareholders account. This instruction allegedly caused concern among the party companies, some of which complained that they would have to close down if they were to give the requested money for the building project. The Swapo chairperson of the nominee shareholders, Clive Kavendjii, pointedly denied this resistance when approached for comment at an earlier occasion.

“Kindly take note that the Swapo Party is the sole shareholder of the companies in question. As to the assertion that the companies have complained that the businesses are at risk, there is simply no iota of truth to this.

“Swapo companies are run on sound business principles and all companies have board members who take their fiduciary duties as non-negotiable,” Kavendjii responded.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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