Fishcor not our baby – Kawana

24 February 2020 | Crime

Acting minister of fisheries Albert Kawana has washed his hands of any responsibility to deal with the under-pressure board of Fishcor, saying the matter is the baby of the public enterprises ministry.

His public enterprises counterpart Leon Jooste was not immediately available for comment on why the board of the State-owned fishing company remained on the job despite the Fishrot scandal thriving under its watchful eye.

“Just recently, a new law came into operation that all commercial public entities must now report under the ministry of public enterprises. That baby (Fishcor) now legally reports under the public enterprises ministry,” he said on Friday during an interview with Namibian Sun.

The Fishcor board members are expected to see out the remainder of their terms, which expire on 30 March.

Several board members last week told Namibian Sun that they had been unaware of the looting that was happening at the entity.

Its former chairperson James Hatuikulipi and suspended CEO Mike Nghipunya as well as former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala returned to the Windhoek Magistrate's Court last Tuesday and had extra corruption charges added to their charge sheets.

Esau, Hatuikulipi and Nghipunya are charged with corruptly using their offices for self-gratification.





Nghipunya is alleged to have used his office to ensure N$75.6 million was paid to entities of his choice that are allegedly linked to the infamous Fishrot Six.

Others implicated in the corruption scandal are Esau's son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, suspended Investec employee Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo.

Kawana was asked whether attempts would be made to hold the Fishcor board members accountable.

According to Namcode, Namibia's textbook on corporate governance, boards require the management committees of their companies to execute strategic decisions effectively and according to the law.

Boards are also responsible for considering the legitimate interests and expectations of the company's stakeholders in their deliberations, decisions and actions.

Jooste had last recently told Namibian Sun that board members would be held accountable if there was evidence to suggest that there was intentional wrongdoing on the part of the directors.

“The outcome of current investigations will guide us as to whether any further actions are required and what form those should take.

“In general, the ministry of public enterprises will not hesitate to invoke the provisions of the Public Enterprise Governance Act or those of the Companies Act in cases where reckless or fraudulent behaviour of board members of public enterprises can be proven, and in both cases, board members may be held personally liable,” Jooste said.



In the dark

A well-placed source told Namibian Sun that Hatuikulipi, Nghipunya and Esau were able to sell Fishcor quotas to Icelandic company Samherji that had been meant to advance the company's corporate social responsibility efforts aimed at addressing issues like drought relief and the government's food bank initiative.

Fishcor board members include regional governors Usko Nghaamwa (Ohangwena) and Sirkka Ausiku (Kavango West), fisheries ministry executive director Dr Moses Maurihungirire, Dr Bennet Kangumu, Ndaendomwenyo Sheya and Clareta Gamses, who later resigned.

They all served at the height of what is now fast becoming Namibia's biggest post-independence corruption scandal, which involved using Fishcor as a vehicle in a grand bribery scheme involving about N$150 million.

OGONE TLHAGE

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