President rejects Kora blame

Geingob says he supported, with good intention, hosting the awards in Namibia but denies having anything to do with the lost millions.

11 October 2019 | Justice

President Hage Geingob late yesterday rejected claims made in court papers that he influenced the decision by the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) to pay N$23.4 million to controversial West African businessman Ernest Adjovi as part of the Kora Music Awards event that was planned for Namibia in 2015.

The President, responding to queries by Namibian Sun through his lawyer Sisa Namandje, confirmed that he supported the holding of the Kora awards in Namibia, but denies having acted in a manner that resulted in the loss of public funds in the matter.

Adjovi, in papers filed in the court in April this year, fingers President Geingob as having been a catalyst in Kora organisers striking a multi-million dollar with NTB, which later collapsed and has become a matter of litigation in the Namibian high courts.

The court papers emerged this week after initially being kept out of public reach as the court case was declared “in-camera”, with neither the media or members of the public having access to the proceedings.

After a public furore, the court papers were made accessible.

“Just as he has done with many other continental and international events he [Geingob], at the time, supported the holding of the Kora awards in Namibia,” Namandje told Namibian Sun.

“Our client therefore categorically denies that because of his then relationship with Mr. Adjovi he somehow influenced the decision making by NTB in making payment to Mr. Adjovi.Any insinuation that our client may have used his power or influence in this respect is absurd as on the facts the decision to enter into the concerned contract was made by NTB in consultation with the relevant ministry,” said Namandje, who said the president is hesitant to comment further on the matter as he did not want to influence the outcome of the ongoing court proceedings.

Adjovi claims his close friendship with President Geingob directly led to the signing of agreements to bring the awards show to Namibia.
Adjovi has become the public face of the missing N$23 million that was paid by NTB for the awards show that never materialised.
The court documents in the lawsuit before the High Court between the NTB and Mundial Telecom Sarl were made public on Wednesday.
This followed threats by the Affirmative Repositioning movement that it would file an urgent application with the High Court if the proceedings continued in-camera.
In September 2016, NTB sued Mundial Telecom, along with Adjovi - who is the founder of the Kora Awards - and local representative of the awards show Tonata Shiimi.
NTB demanded N$23.5 million (plus 20% interest), which it had paid for an advertising package that it never received.
Mundial Telecom owns the rights to host the Kora Awards while Adjovi acted as the president of the company. Shiimi was the national director of the awards in Namibia.
Adjovi filed his witness statement on 3 April this year. In it, he says it is important to sketch the history of the matter that stretches back to when he met Geingob.
According to him, this meeting led to the agreements Mundial Telecom entered into with the NTB and the Namibian government.
Adjovi says he lost contact with Geingob for some time after he had left government, presumably around 2002.
“However, we re-established ties during 2014 to such an extent that it led to agreements being signed between Mundial Telecom and NTB and the government of Namibia.”
According to Adjovi, Shiimi was appointed as the local representative of Mundial Telecom during 2014/2015 and he was always part of the negotiations with Geingob, NTB’s representatives and former attorney-general Sakeus Shanghala, now justice minister.
“Shanghala was well aware of the circumstances surrounding this matter,” he states.
Adjovi further says Shiimi tried to secure a waiver from the finance ministry that would have allowed Mundial Telecom’s suppliers to bring the necessary equipment for the show into Namibia without paying import duties or VAT.
When that attempt failed, the supplier of the dome in which the ceremony would have been staged pulled out of the deal.
According to Adjovi, the cancellation of the show was the direct result of contractual breaches by NTB (late payments) and the Namibian government, which had both entered into an agreement with his company.
According to the plea statement by Mundial Telecom, none of NTB’s payments were made before 10 December 2015 as agreed.
Adjovi says the late payments by NTB resulted in Mundial Telecom not being able to comply with its obligations.
Adjovi says his company engaged in discussions with Shanghala, who had drafted the agreements between Mundial Telecom, NTB and the government.
“As such he was well aware of the obligations of all parties and the various breaches which resulted in this matter being instituted.”
He says during a telephone conversation on 1 March 2016, Shanghala undertook to find the necessary sponsors, as agreed to by the government, to cover the suppliers’ costs and pay them directly.
“I understood that this was the obligation of the government in terms of the agreement.”
According to Adjovi, because NTB had breached their agreement, it was cancelled on 15 March 2016.
Although Adjovi admits that NTB’s N$23.5 million was not refunded, he claims his company was not obliged to do so as it had incurred reasonable expenses (damages) in excess of the amount the NTB had paid.
The NTB concluded a written agreement on a tourism promotion package with Mundial Telecom on 4 December 2015. Videos promoting Namibia as a tourist destination were supposed to have been televised during the All-Africa Kora Music Awards show that was scheduled to be held in Namibia on 20 March 2016.
The ceremony was initially scheduled for 13 December 2015, but was postponed.
In terms of the contract signed on 4 December 2015, NTB had to pay the N$23.5 million on or before 10 December 2015.
The first payment of N$5 million was only made on 22 December 2015 and a second payment of another N$5 million was made on 23 December 2015. On 7 January 2016 another N$5 million was transferred and on 17 February 2016 N$8.5 million was transferred.
The money was paid into the bank account of Mundial Telecom in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The promised promotional material was supposed to be aired by all participating African countries’ television stations by at least 20 January 2016.
Even though there was no evidence of these broadcasts taking place two months before the awards ceremony, the NTB continued to make payments on several occasions.
The NTB claims it suffered contractual damages and it is therefore demanding payment of N$23.5 million, plus 20% interest.
In terms of the agreement, in the event that the awards did not take place in Namibia, Mundial Telecom was to refund the amount paid by NTB, less “reasonable expenses” incurred, within 60 days.
The contract also stated that if any party breached the agreement and failed to remedy that within five days of receiving a written notice, the other party had the right to cancel the agreement without damages.
State House did not respond to questions regarding Geingob’s alleged role in the matter.

[email protected]

ELLANIE SMIT

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