PDM wants independent Fishrot probe

The official opposition says what is urgently required is an independent commission of inquiry, “drawn from the private sector and with no links to the ruling party or the fishing industry”.

27 November 2019 | Government

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has rejected President Hage Geingob's appointment of acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana as the government investigator of the Fishrot bribery scandal, and has instead called for an independent commission of inquiry “like South Africa's Zondo commission” into state capture.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani said yesterday the official opposition was “flabbergasted and dismayed to see how little respect President Hage Geingob has for the intelligence of the people of Namibia”.

“How can the government (the accused in this case) investigate itself?” Exactly how stupid and gullible does this government think we Namibians actually are? This like asking (former fisheries minister Bernhardt) Esau to investigate himself!” Venaani said.

Esau, as well as former justice minister Sacky Shanghala resigned recently amid the fallout linked to the scandal, which allegedly saw N$150 million in bribes being paid to Namibian politicians and officials by Iceland seafood company Samherji in exchange for fishing quotas.

Venaani said it is common knowledge that the Swapo government, and therefore the cabinet, takes all decisions by means of consensus.

“Thus it is clear that the now disgraced… Esau could not have done his shady deals with the Icelandic fishing company without the knowledge and consent of the cabinet.

“Small wonder the whistleblower in the documentary about this scheme that was aired on Sunday night on One Africa TV kept referring to 'senior party members, including the president' when speaking about who were in the know.

“Thus the PDM, reading between the lines, believes the reason why President Geingob has suddenly been galvanised into taking action about something that has been all over the media for more than a month must be that he fears what more may be revealed,” Venaani said.

“And that is why he wants to fob off the public outrage by tasking a member of his handpicked cabinet to 'investigate' this scandal. This will not fly, as it is clear that the entire cabinet has a dog in this race!”

Venaani said the people who watched the documentary should also not forget about the way in which a private fishing company was bankrupted, putting 1 000 Namibians out of work, so that the so-called 'sharks' (Esau, Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi) could start state-owned enterprise (SOE) Fishcor “for their own, and probably others, enrichment”.

“The PDM rejects the appointment of Kawana as investigator of this issue of national importance with the contempt it deserves. In fact, since Kawana is purportedly a person with high legal qualifications, one would have expected him to refuse to accept this assignment, as there is clearly a conflict of interest!” Venaani added what was urgently required was an independent commission of inquiry like South Africa's Zondo commission, “drawn from the private sector and with no links to the ruling party or the fishing industry, to investigate this matter in public”.

“Nothing less should satisfy the Namibian public. Nothing less will start to rid this country of the morass of corruption into which this government and this ruling party has plunged Namibia.”

Staff Reporter

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