I owe GIPF nothing – Haikali

25 January 2021 | Business

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK

Businessman Ranga Haikali on Friday said he owes no money to the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) from the fund’s ill-fated Development Capital Portfolio (DCP), where up to N$600 million disbursed to various entities was allegedly not paid back.

Daring his detractors, Haikali said he would pay N$10 for every dollar he is found to have irregularly taken out of GIPF.

Haikali was part of a group of local entrepreneurs who took over the Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) and renamed it Ongopolo Mining – which borrowed N$70 million from GIPF in 2000.

Haikali, speaking to Namibian Sun’s ‘The Evening Review’ show on Friday, said Ongopolo was repaying GIPF its money as per the agreed schedule until the loan was converted into equity in the mine, when Weatherly International bought out the local shareholders.

“Under the DCP, Ongopolo was the only recipient who was honouring its repayment obligations towards GIPF until government decided to sell the mine’s assets to a foreign company – Weatherly International,” he recalled.

“They converted our loan, which we actually got from Bank Windhoek with a guarantee from GIPF, into equity or shareholding in Weatherly.

“They repossessed a loan which was up to date in terms of repayment and gave it to an entity [Weatherly] listed on the London Stock Exchange and left Ongopolo alone.

“The smelter was sold, Otjihase mine closed, Tsumeb West closed, Asis Far West closed, Kombat closed. It was a decision of the loan providers and the guarantors [Bank Windhoek and GIPF) as well as the ministry of mines and energy.”

Prosecutor-general Martha Imalwa said in 2019 that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the majority of the recipients of DCP funds, with only one person indicted in the matter. She also said the disbursed funds were unrecoverable and lost for good.

The ‘fall guy’

Dominikus Shivute is the only person charged so far in the controversial saga, with the 70-year-old having appeared in the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court in late 2019.

Shivute had received N$6 million from the GIPF in the form of a loan and allegedly used part of the money to buy three vehicles. When his Ongwediva-based company BSAE was liquidated, Shivute allegedly failed to disclose the three vehicles, New Era reported.

Haikali believes he did everything above board as far as the GIPF funds are concerned.

“No money was taken, no money was stolen, no money was lost. The [owners] repossessed their T-load to turn it into equity, so why must Ranga and his partners be blamed?”

In September 2019, GIPF CEO David Nuyoma confirmed at a press conference that Ongopolo’s load was converted into equity, but questions about the DCP scheme have refused to die.

Safland funding

When Cabinet ordered the discontinuation of the DCP scheme, GIPF created a new regime, the Unlisted Investment Portfolio, through which Safland, a property firm co-owned by Haikali, received funding to build malls around the country, including Grove Mall in Windhoek.

“When the Unlisted Investment Portfolio was announced, as a businessman I went out to look for partners and opportunities. We applied for funding through Safland, in which I owned 50%, and we built Grove Mall from nothing, on land that was just lying idle. We built Otjiwarongo Town Square and Gwashamba Mall in Ondangwa.”

Haikali, who has since sold his stake in Safland, said GIPF’s model of giving out funds in investments helped grow the fund and placed it in a strong financial position to fulfil its obligations towards members.

“If GIPF kept members’ funds in the bank, as many are suggesting, that money wouldn’t grow. So GIPF invests it in order to get better returns and be in a position to help its members.”

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