Swapo not taking Fishrot questions

The party continues to maintain deafening silence on Fishrot, as more of its leaders continue to emerge as alleged recipients of illicit funds.

15 June 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Despite more and more leaders of the ruling party Swapo emerging as alleged beneficiaries of the Fishrot bribery debacle, the party continues to duck any questions related to the saga.

Hiding behind the fact that the matter is before court, party spokesperson Hilma Nicanor yesterday said she was 'not mandated' to discuss the issue, despite evidence that the party is increasingly implicated.

Mike Nghipunya, suspended CEO of Fishcor, testified recently that he signed off payment for Swapo after then minister Bernhardt Esau, who is currently in jail related to his own involvement in the scandal, had initially approved it. It remains unclear what the payment was for, except stating broadly that it was for “government objectives”. Swapo is yet to explain this and other linked payments.



Double standard

Last week, The Namibian reported that many Swapo leaders linked to the party's youth league and musical band Ndilimani Cultural Troupe received payments thought to be linked to Fishrot.





President Hage Geingob refused to discuss the scandal during his state of the nation address a fortnight ago.

Meanwhile, Swapo already recalled ministers Esau and his justice counterpart Sacky Shanghala from parliament without waiting for their cases to be concluded in court.

“If the party says the nation must wait for courts to conclude the matter, why did they recall Esau and Shanghala before such process is concluded? Their excuse only creates more suspicion,” a party insider commented yesterday.



Tarnishing party image

Nicanor yesterday claimed the media is hellbent on tarnishing the party's image and ruining its 'dignity' and that of Geingob. “This country has processes and decent institutions that are in place to deal with these issues you are talking about. If you have information and not allegations about these payments, then you can approach those institutions,” Nicanor said.

“Why should we be painted as corrupt when we are telling you the truth?” she asked. Political analyst Graham Hopwood yesterday said: “It's likely that Swapo will say the matter is sub judice and that nothing can be done until it is resolved in the courts, but this could take years.” “In the meantime, the party's reputation for integrity is being eroded. It is also important for the party to do the right thing and remove bad apples.

“I don't think there is anything stopping Swapo launching an internal investigation. Any evidence that emerges during an internal investigation can be handed over to the ACC,” he added.



Buying votes

The Fishrot funds received by Swapo and its functionaries are said to have been for the party's 2017 elective congress, with some even suggesting the money was used to 'buy' votes of delegates. Documents released last week suggest that youth league secretary Efraim Nekongo and his predecessor Veikko Nekundi as well as the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) had received payments through a local law firm, De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Incorporated.

This law firm, which has since been disbanded, is said to have been used as a conduit to pay bribes and launder money amounting to more than N$75 million.

Nanso president Simon Taapopi announced they have launched an investigation into the allegations and said its preliminary findings show that it has received no payment.

“Our bank records between the periods of 31 October 2017 and 31 December 2017 are available for scrutiny and can be provide upon request,” he said. Nicanor added that the party is committed to securing a landslide victory in this year's local authority and regional council elections and will also amend its constitution at an extraordinary congress.

According to her, the party's think tank has also been tasked to compile and submit a scientific report on the party's activities and its performance during the November 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

It is expected that the party will close loopholes some party members took advantage of to stand as independents candidates.

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