Kora was special

New revelations around the Kora awards saga indicate how the cash-strapped Namibian government bent over backwards for Ernest Adjovi.

10 August 2018 | Tourism

The tourism ministry has confirmed that the nearly N$24 million looted from the Namibia Tourism Board by Kora All-Africa Awards founder Ernest Adjovi was not part of the parastatal's original budget.

This was revealed by the ministry this week in response to a petition by aggrieved NTB staff.

The Kora funds were in fact “money funded by the government to purchase a promotion package for the purpose of promoting Namibia in Africa” and was over and above the NTB's budget.

In addition to the N$23.5 million paid by the NTB, government had also reportedly paid Adjovi N$8 million in 2016 for a musical award show extravaganza, which never took place.

Acting permanent secretary Teofilus Nghitila said in his response to the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) that the N$23.5 million paid over to the Kora organisers was not money budgeted for the NTB's operations.

He further stressed that due process was followed for this disbursement and that a legal agreement was drawn up with the assistance of the attorney-general.

“Currently there is an ongoing High Court case, including a criminal case on this matter. Since the matter is sub judice, no further details can be given,” said Nghitila.

According to NTB's 2015/16 financial report, the total budget available to the parastatal was N$83.8 million, which comprised of a government grant allocation of N$22 million, “the Kora All-Africa Music Awards special project” of N$24 million and own funds of N$37.8 million, which were generated through NTB revenue streams, of which tourism levies contributed about N$29.8 million.

The report confirmed the total expenditure that was geared for NTB operations and activities was N$60.3 million and the Kora “special project” amounted to N$23.5 million, bringing total expenditure to N$94.9 million, which resulted in a net operating deficit of N$11.1 million, which was serviced with reserve funds.

NTB CEO Digu !Naobeb explained that the company receives an annual government grant and that the Kora millions were never part of this grant.

He said that this money was given to NTB on top of the government grant to use for the “special project” and it was specifically stated that it cannot be used for operational purposes.

The NTB sued Mundial Telecom Sarl, Adjovi and his local partner Tonata Shiimi in September 2016 for N$23.5 million that it had paid for a tourism promotion package during the awards ceremony, which it never received.

Mundial Telecom owns the rights to host the Kora Awards while Adjovi acted as the president of the company and Shiimi was the national director of the awards.

The NTB signed the agreement with Mundial Telecom Sarl on 4 December 2015.

The tourism promotion material was to have been screened during the 2016 Kora All-Africa Music Awards ceremony that was scheduled to be held in Namibia on 20 March 2016.

The ceremony initially had been scheduled for 13 December 2015, but was then postponed.

In terms of the contract the NTB had to pay the N$23.5 million on or before 10 December 2015. But the first payment of N$5 million was made on 22 December 2015 and another N$5 million was paid on 23 December 2015. On 7 January 2016 another N$5 million was transferred and on 17 February 2016 the remaining N$8.5 million was transferred.

The money was paid into the bank account of Mundial Telecom in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.





The agreement stipulated that promotional television clips featuring Namibia would be screened by all participating African television stations by at least 20 January 2016.

Even though there was no evidence of these promotions being screened two months before the awards ceremony, the NTB continued to make payments.

According to NTB it suffered contractual damages and it is therefore claiming N$23.5 million plus 20% interest.

The High Court last month ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Adjovi in his personal capacity - and also that Mundial Telecom SARL, which had failed to adhere to a previous court order setting a time limit for the filing of documents in the matter, was barred from pleading its defence.

!Naobeb said that a ruling in the matter is expected at the end of August.

He added that a criminal case has also been opened at the Anti-Corruption Commission.

With regard to NTB staff grievances about legal fees the NTB had paid, Nghitila said NTB did not have an in-house lawyer and had to outsource its legal services to reputable firms for objectivity on complex legal matters.

“I am assured that the NTB is acting in the best interest of the institution and that the alleged expenditure in excess of N$1 million on staff legal issues is contrary to the board-approved financial statements for external auditing purposes as reflected in the last financial year,” he said.

Nghitila said these figures showed that the NTB had spent N$649 341 on legal costs for the Kora Awards, Syntax and human resources matters.

Nghitila concluded by addressing the demand by staff that !Naobeb, should be removed and the board dissolved.

He said !Naobeb was appointed through an open, competitive and transparent recruitment process.

The CEO can only be dismissed on sound grounds of breach of his contract of employment after due processes have been followed.

Furthermore he said the board was appointed by the cabinet for a term of three years in terms of the NTB Act and Public Enterprises Government Act.

It is understood that staff members were not satisfied with the response form the ministry to the petition.





ELLANIE SMIT

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