Lawyers to attach Air Nam assets this Friday

With liquidation unlikely to be completed before tomorrow amidst political bickering, Challenge Air lawyers plan on attaching the national airline’s assets, unless N$107 million is paid by tomorrow.

17 February 2021 | Transport

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Air Namibia has not yet officially filed for liquidation as the airline awaits government’s formal decision on its future – amidst a political storm.

This is according to interim CEO, Theo Mberirua, who was tentatively tasked to ensure a voluntary liquidation resolution is registered with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority before tomorrow, 18 February.

Finance and public enterprises ministers Iipumbu Shiimi and Leon Jooste announced the planned liquidation of the airline last week, ending months of speculation.

The two ministers announced what they said was a collective Cabinet decision amid tough questions by fellow Swapo leaders who claim they were kept in the dark over this plan.

Jooste, in a communique last week, had ordered Mberirua to proceed with the liquidation of the airline by filing a CM100 form to start the process to end the airline’s operations.

Mberirua had, however, this week instructed managers to recall skeleton staff members back to work, as the company is deemed operational unless formally liquidated.

Speaking on developments at the airline, Mberirua yesterday told Namibian Sun that they were still waiting for an official and final position from government.

“We are still waiting for government to make a decision. For now, we are just proceeding… business as usual,” he said.

Geingob ‘not silent’

President Hage Geingob has been accused of throwing his ministers ‘under the bus’ after Swapo seemingly started gunning for Shiimi and Jooste following their joint press conference last week.

As head of both the ruling party and government, Geingob is perceived to be too quiet on the liquidation issue, leaving his ministers in the firing line.

This after Swapo allegedly ordered government to backtrack on the liquidation.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari yesterday said the decision to liquidate had been made after consultations.

“The president is not quiet. The ministers serve under the delegated authority of the president and are there to communicate decisions and positions of the Namibian executive and government on sectoral issues,” he said.

Geingob, who is understood to have been spending time at his farm lately, had during the delivery of his State of the Nation Address last year quipped at the possibility of Air Namibia’s liquidation.

Payment due tomorrow

Jooste and Shiimi formally announced the liquidation last week, citing Air Namibia’s burdening debt amounting to N$2.5 billion and the airline’s inability to turn a profit since its establishment.

The liquidation also forms part of a move to protect the seizure of Air Namibia’s assets against a claim instituted by Belgian company Challenge Air over the lease of a defective Boeing 767 in 1998.

Challenge Air had successfully sued Air Namibia over the non-payment of the lease, maintenance and insurance of the aircraft. The Belgian outfit had also successfully applied for the liquidation of the airline.

Air Namibia must make a payment of N$107 million by tomorrow to avoid having its assets attached.

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