PS breaks his silence

The former health PS has accused health minister Bernhard Haufiku of pushing for certain companies to be preferred for tenders at the ministry.

15 December 2017 | Government

Former health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola has fired a massive salvo at his former boss Bernhard Haufiku, accusing the minister of pushing for certain companies to be preferred for tenders at the ministry.

Mwoombola was transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister last week following a widely publicised standoff with Haufiku.

The personality clash had threatened to compromise service delivery at the ministry, prompting President Hage Geingob to jump into the fray last week.

Mwoombola, who has kept quiet in recent weeks, yesterday took a swipe at Haufiku for publicly accusing him of corruption, saying the minister's statements were unfounded and defamatory.

Instead, he claimed it was the minister who tried to push certain companies for tenders.

“The honourable minister has on several occasions cancelled tenders via SMS on the WhatsApp platform from Europe that are already in the running without valid reasons being proffered, as if there is undue influence,” said Mwoombola.

“He has also directed me to consider specific companies for tender award, without following due process, which is in violation of the Public Procurement Act No.15 of 2015.

“I declined these requests. I have on several occasions refused to comply with such requests, which I believe has caused the breakdown in our professional working relationship between our offices. I could simply not do things that have elements of corruption entrenched in them and that constitute unethical practice.”

Haufiku yesterday declined to comment on Mwoombola's allegations, saying the matter was being dealt with by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mwoombola claimed Haufiku had shown disrespectful behaviour towards him, even in front of junior colleagues.

“The honourable minister has a tendency of yelling at me in the presence of my subordinates. He has created a culture of yelling. This behaviour is abusive.

“These constant verbal attacks have become very personal and are degrading and I find myself helpless in this situation.” He said efforts by deputy minister Juliet Kavetuna to mediate in order to restore a working relationship between the two of them also proved futile.

“A meeting was held on 15 May 2017 but the meeting did not yield any positive results due to the honourable minister's unwillingness to deal with the matter privately and fairly.

“Instead, he has chosen to force me out of the ministry if I do not voluntarily resign, which I have vehemently refused to do.” Mwoombola was suspended in July for an investigation into allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

He was reinstated the following month, but cabinet secretary George Simataa confirmed that the disciplinary process against Mwoombola was continuing.

Mwoombola denied the corruption allegations.

“I wish to clarify that since my appointment I have never attended any tender committee meetings or involved myself in any adjudication processes with regard to tender awards,” he said.

“My role is to merely approve what is recommended to me by the relevant committees entrusted with these processes as per the Public Procurement Act.” He charged that the minister interfered in operational matters.

“The honourable minister has accused me of financial mismanagement, irregular tender awarding, and potential conflicts of interest that were allegedly permitted by my office.

“These allegations are false and lack substantiation.

“I strongly believe in the justice system and ... challenge the honourable minister to allow the disciplinary process to run its course without undue interference and without premature unfounded statements being made before any pronouncements are made.”

Haufiku had in the past claimed that he had submitted a dossier containing proof of irregularities at the ministry to the Anti-Corruption Commission. It is unclear whether that investigation has been concluded.

Mwoombola said it was actually Haufiku who head-hunted him to the join the ministry in 2015, leaving a high-paying job at a private company to take up the government offer.

“When I joined the ministry, my vision was to deal with challenges that were facing the ministry and my mission was to provide integrated, affordable, accessible, equitable, quality health and social welfare services responsive to the needs of the Namibian population.

I was and remain confident of my ability as this is an industry I know well,” he said.

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