PG under siege

Prosecutor-General Martha Imalwa is under heavy attack following revelations that her office declined to prosecute 18 of the 20 firms linked to the GIPF saga.

23 August 2019 | Local News

Opposition parties and other commentators have called for the head of the country's top prosecutor.

This follows Prosecutor-General Martha Imalwa revealing on Wednesday that there was no hope of recovering the over N$600 million lost in the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) scandal and that her office had declined to prosecute 18 of the 20 firms linked to the saga.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani said yesterday he has written to President Hage Geingob and asked that Imalwa be removed from her position.

He said they also want the investigation into the GIPF saga to be made public and that an independent investigation into the stolen millions should be conducted.

According to Venaani he asked Geingob to open a commission of inquiry on the GIPF matter.

Describing the matter as a miscarriage of justice, Venaani said it had been deliberately delayed.

He said authorities are playing for time and that the PDM is “disgusted” with the outcome, because there will be no accountability.

“The PG must be asked to resign. You cannot be a PG and say you do not have enough evidence to prosecute. She has made herself guilty by not taking action,” Venaani said.

According to him the GIPF money was transferred electronically and that the assets of the companies involved are known.

“What more evidence do you need? People got rich because of this money, but they have gotten off scot-free. We are laughing at corruption.”

Venaani said the PDM is therefore calling for a “people's march” and that all opposition parties, NGOs, churches and other groups will be consulted.





He stressed the PG is an officer of the law and that she should have put the matter to the test in court.

“It is the biggest heist of the country, but nobody is called to account. She should have taken moral authority. She has now become the court.”



Fitness to hold office

Nudo called on Geingob to suspend Imalwa and institute a judicial service commission of inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The party's secretary-general Joseph Kauandenge said Imalwa has demonstrated numerous times that she is not fit to hold her office.

Kauandenge said the most evident examples of her misconduct include her disregard for constitutional and legal parameters, with her unwillingness to prosecute well-connected individuals, including charges brought against well-established and wealthy Namibians.

He also said Imalwa has failed to provide timeous reports on, amongst others, the SME Bank saga and the Offshore Development Company (ODC).

“The office of the PG is a crucial institution in the fight against injustice and the rot of corruption and Martha Imalwa is not the person to lead it. An important state organ like the office of the PG cannot be used to protect criminals and the well-connected.”

Kauandenge said it is disheartening to note that millions of “our money went into thin air”, and yet Imalwa had the audacity to state without shame that those who stole with impunity cannot be prosecuted, because of a lack of evidence.

He said the evidence is there, but what is lacking is the independence of the PG's office.

Kauandenge said the process followed to appoint her in article 88 of the constitution already compromised her independence.

“For obvious reasons she will sing for her supper and dinner to her superiors and claim not to see acts of corruption of well-connected individuals.

“However, she will always move with speed and precision to arraign those less powerful and charge them in our courts of law.”



'Taking everybody for fool'

Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) leader Evilastus Kaaronda said Imalwa is taking everybody for a fool.

“She is taking us for a ride. There is nothing special about this investigation. When someone borrows money there has to be an agreement and a paper trail. How can there now be a lack of evidence? You know who the companies are and the names of the people involved, you know the amounts and what was not paid back, what else do you need?”

Kaaronda said Imalwa is not acting in the interest of justice, but protecting would-be criminals.

“That is why we are preparing to take her to court. She has declined to prosecute the companies involved due to a lack of evidence.”

Kaaronda said with the legal action, they are hoping that all the evidence will be brought before the court.

“If we agree there is a lack of evidence, then fine, but if not, we will ask that she must be removed from office.”

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) secretary-general Brunhilde Cornelius told Namibian Sun that Imalwa has not been consistent in her statements and that her history speaks volumes.

“To come and say to the public that the money is just gone. The companies should have been held accountable and paid back the money.”

Cornelius further questioned the independence of the PG's office, claiming that someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes.

“Why would you pull a blanket on the GIPF investigation? She knows where that money is. Why is she not telling the truth? Someone is telling her what to do and say.”

Cornelius said that not only should more have been done in terms of the GIPF investigation, but it should have been done much earlier.

“But someone hoped that it would not come out.”



'Overstayed her welcome'

Landless People's Movement (LPM) national coordinator Ivan Skrywer said the PG has overstayed her welcome in office.

According to the LPM, the PG post should come with a term of two years.

Skrywer said there is no way that in this modern age money can just disappear without a trace.

“But because there is no real political will to fight corruption in this country, it is just excuses after excuses.”

He said there should have been investigation after investigation and parliamentary investigation committees should have been instituted to get to the bottom of the GIPF saga.

Skrywer said someone has to account for the money and that the LPM will fight for this.

“People's money is gone just like that; that is nonsense, nonsense.”

He said it is now up to every individual to fight corruption at the ballot box on 27 November, as the judiciary is failing people miserably.



Paper trail

Meanwhile, an investment expert, who preferred anonymity, spoke to Namibian Sun. In his view, there is always a paper trail when it comes to money and banks keep records.

“Were the banks ever approached with regard to the transfer of funds? Who signed off on those transfers and to which account and/or bank did the money go? Account signatories must give instructions for money to be transferred and where it is to be transferred to. Those records are with the banks that were used,” the expert said.

While the full scope of the investigation is unknown, it is his view that the parties should easily be traced, if the bank records were properly perused.

“Banks always cooperate in these types of investigations, so I must say, I am surprised,” he added.

ELLANIE SMIT

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