Geingob won't save Fishrot jailbirds

In his SONA address yesterday, the head of state, who was generally evasive on Fishrot, said those implicated in the scandal should not expect any favours from him.

05 June 2020 | Government

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



President Hage Geingob yesterday said the law must take its course in the Fishrot court case and he will not involve himself in the matter to save the accused.

Two ex-ministers, including his once blue-eyed boy Sacky Shanghala, have been in jail for seven months following their arrest in November last year over allegations they had received millions of dollars as bribes in exchange for handing out fishing quotas.





The other former minister behind bars is Bernard Esau, who was in the charge of the fisheries ministerial portfolio.

Thumping his chest, Geingob credited himself for having asked the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate some ministers, including Shanghala, way before the arrests last November.

“You may recall that long before the so-called Fishrot expose, during February 2018, I requested several cabinet ministers to respond to allegations of corruption levelled against them,” he said.

“Their responses were subsequently forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation, consistent with my conviction to strengthen processes, systems and institutions.”

“Today, two senior former ministers are in jail for seven months, with no interference from the Executive. This confirms my firm belief in the principle of the separation of powers and allowing the law to take its course.”



Evasive

Geingob was generally evasive on the Fishrot subject, claiming he has been advised by his lawyers not to comment on the matter because it is before court.

“People are in jail, Swapo members,” he said, when pressed by the opposition why the ruling party was doing internally regarding Fishrot.

Asked if his party has benefitted from the bribery saga, Geingob said investigations would bring the answers to light.

He made the remarks during the State of the Nation (SONA) address yesterday.

For the umpteenth time, Geingob regurgitated having cancelled the awarding of the Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrading tender, which was inflated from N$3 billion to N$7 billion in his yearly briefing to parliament.



Media must take stock

He expressed delight with Namibia having again being ranked first in Africa in terms of media freedom, but hastened to state that the media must do better in terms of information they disseminate.

“As we undertake much needed introspection as government, we also expect that the media reflect on its role in the society. We rely on the media, as the fourth estate, for truth and fairness. The role of the media in providing factual reporting is therefore of paramount importance,” he said.

He conceded that the economy has continued to deteriorate, attributing this in part to declining per capita income, low investments and a high public expenditure ratio, compounded by the global economic downturn, declining commodity prices and exchange rate fluctuations.

“The five-year drought that ravaged our agricultural sector, exposed thousands of Namibian households to food insecurity, necessitating the reallocation of funding to the drought relief programme, in line with our commitment that no Namibian should die due to hunger,” he said.

With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, Geingob anticipates further economic challenges for the country.

“Green shoots of recovery were becoming visible. Unfortunately, these prospects have been severely compromised by the outbreak of Covid-19.”

The head of state said reducing cabinet from 25 ministries down to 19 is part of his efforts to align government functions for efficient and effective service delivery.

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