Kawana grilled on Fishrot

MPs have expressed scepticism over acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana's investigation into alleged corruption and nepotism in the sector.

13 February 2020 | Crime

Questions relating to the Fishrot saga, which has landed former lawmakers and businessmen behind bars, dominated debates in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

First to take on acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana was Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP)MP leader Mike Kavekotora who questioned how N$17.5 million was transferred from state-owned Fishcor to law firm Sisa Namandje Incorporated's trust account.

The Namibian reported last week that around N$7 million of the N$17.5 million transferred from Fishcor into the law firm's trust account ended up being paid to businessman Vaino Nghipondoka.

“These are all public funds gone to waste,” Kavekotora lamented, saying Fischor's board of directors who sanctioned these payments must be held liable and accountable.

The payments were reportedly made in 2015 and 2017.

“Was the board aware of all the N$17.5 million paid from Fishcor into Sisa Namandje's trust account, and if yes, what was the payment for?” he asked.

Fishcor's directors at the time were its suspended CEO Mike Nghipunya, James Hatuikulipi, Benneth Kangumu, Ndaendomwenyo Sheya, Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa, Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku and fisheries executive director Moses Maurihungirire.

“What competencies made each one of them uniquely qualified to be appointed as Fishcor board members?” Kavekotora asked Kawana.

“What role did the board play in all these fraudulent transactions that took place during their term in office?”

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) MP Nico Smit wanted to know how far Kawana's investigation into the fishing sector had gotten.

Late last year, President Hage Geingob directed Kawana to investigate alleged corruption and nepotism in the sector.

Smit was sceptical about Kawana.

“How can a colleague of the disgraced [former] minister [Bernhardt Esau (fisheries) and Sacky Shanghala (justice)] and a member of Cabinet be tasked with investigating this matter? Can you believe that? More and more information has seen the light regarding this scandalous theft from the Namibian people, yet nothing has been heard about Dr Kawana's investigation,” he lamented.

Last year, Shanghala and Esau were forced to relinquish their Cabinet positions amid allegations of corruption and money-laundering.

Esau and Shanghala stand accused of receiving bribes in return for giving preferential access to Namibia's rich fishing grounds to Iceland seafood company Samherji. It is alleged that the politicians and their cronies pocketed at least N$150 million in kickbacks over four years.

The former ministers remain behind bars along with four co-accused.

NAMPA

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