Nghipondoka's Tribesmen hits back at NSFAF

20 September 2018 | Government

Tribesman Investment, which together with South African-based New Integrated Credit Solutions (NICS) has been lambasted by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) for recovering a measly N$6.8 million, while being paid about N$14.7 million as part of a debt recovery deal, has hit back at the fund.

Tribesmen/NCIS had earned a fixed monthly management fee of N$287 500, inclusive of value-added tax (VAT), on top of a 12% commission fee, since 2014.

The expectation was that Tribesmen/NCIS would recover around N$400 million on behalf of NSFAF.

Solomon Nemaire, the managing director of Vaino Nghipondoka's Profile Investment Holdings, the sister company to Tribesmen Investment, said yesterday that to focus on the money collected was “to focus on the periphery”.

Nemaire said Tribesmen/NICS got the debt collection contract in 2014 because NSFAF had realised it did not have the in-house capacity to recover its debts.

He said at the core of the problem was NSFAF's “current default mode of operation”, which he said was first to disburse money “and then later down the line to remember they must also recover it”.

Nemaire claimed NSFAF had no recovery policy, and said nit-picking over the money paid to Tribesmen was a “grandstanding” exercise.

“Recovery will not succeed without a policy, and as much as NSFAF wants to disburse money, they should also want to recover it with the same amount of zeal,” Nemaire said.

NSFAF acting CEO Kennedy Kandume said on Monday the organisation only realised in March this year that Tribesmen/NICS was acting in bad faith. Kandume said this revelation prompted NSFAF to consider remedial options in terms of the agreement, a process that eventually led to the termination of the contract on 14 September.

The clause reportedly breached by Tribesmen/NICS stipulates that the joint-venture partners are not allowed to disclose the terms of the service-level agreement without prior written consent from NSFAF.

On 27 and 28 March Tribesmen disclosed confidential information in newspaper articles, he said.

Kandume said when NSFAF demanded a retraction, Tribesmen “arrogantly tried to brush it off, finding far-fetched justifications for its actions”.

He said NSFAF thereafter asked Tribesmen to consider waiving its monthly management fee of N$287 500.

On the unauthorised disclosures, Nemaire said NSFAF should not hide behind a non-disclosure agreement, adding that the information was in the public domain in any case.

Nemaire said this was why “every other file” of the 50 000 NSFAF recipients did not contain all the requisite information.

He added that he wondered how much NSFAF thought it would cost to reconstruct a database of that size.

“These are efforts not linked to recovery but cost money,” Nemaire. “That is the centre of the matter.”

To the allegation that Tribesmen was refusing to remedy the situation, Nemaire responded: “The valid contract we have now states that Tribesmen will be paid a monthly management fee of N$287 500. To change that entails altering the contract. We stated that we are prepared to renegotiate this contract, provided NSFAF approves the recovery policy that we sent to them and that it failed to approve for an unprecedented period of three years.”

Kandume said on Monday that the contract was in any case never in the best interest of NSFAF, and by extension not in the best interest of the public.

Since the termination of the contract the debt-recovery function has returned to NSFAF, which means the institution could save N$1.8 million annually, he said.

Kandume said before this job was outsourced, NSFAF had done “much better”.

He also made an appeal to the fund's beneficiaries to pay their debts.

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