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N$500k tender sparks tribal rift in Kavango West

Tribalism claims rubbished by regional governor
Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku said her decision to intervene and cancel a tender awarded to a non-regional company was centred on the principles of inclusivity and promoting deliberate and equitable national development.  
Kenya Kambowe/Nikanor Nangolo
Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku’s decision to intervene and cancel a tender awarded to a company not from the region has ignited a tribal storm.

She took issue with the fact that Tateeya Investment, a company owned by well-known businessman Remind Ekandjo, was selected to organise National Malaria Day, scheduled for 10 November in Nkurenkuru. The event was eventually called off.

Ausiku, in several letters addressed to health minister Kalumbi Shangula, expressed her dissatisfaction with the tender award process, stating that local entrepreneurs were overlooked and that it was unfair for them not to benefit.

Explain to the public

She questioned how the regional leadership would justify awarding a tender worth N$479 785 to a single company that is not from the region.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that none of the entrepreneurs from the region were accorded the opportunity to participate,” she argued in a letter dated 25 October.

“The experience of the region during the hosting of national events like Public Service Day and Heroes Day, local entrepreneurs were given an opportunity to render their services, and only the services that could not be procured locally were sourced from outside the region.

“It is also a concern to award one company an amount of N$479 789, and it would be difficult for the regional leadership to explain this to the public,” she noted.

“Honourable minister, unemployment is a reality in all 14 regions; hence, whenever there is an opportunity for a region to host a national event, resources must benefit the region where the event is taking place. Therefore, the region is requesting for an urgent intervention from your esteemed office.”

In an attempt to resolve the situation and clarify that the process was fair, with Tateeya providing goods and services not available locally while chairs and catering were handled by locals, it seems the ministry yielded to Ausiku's concerns, resulting in the indefinite postponement of the event.

Criticism

While some applauded Ausiku's intervention as heroic, others criticised her for emphasising the aspect of the regional origin of Tateeya Investment's owner rather than addressing potential corruption in the tender award process.

“Are we now saying that Kavango entrepreneurs who have business interests in other regions must be sidelined as well? Instead of encouraging local businesses to be on the lookout for tenders and apply, she is making it seem as if her local entrepreneurs should not face competition,” a source argued.

“Kavango West has become a region where non-Kavangos, especially those that do not hail from her region, are being mistreated, and the name of the governor is always in the mix.

“There was also an issue with the recent Swapo Party rally where the catering company that got the tender was from Rundu – can you imagine? That region is becoming unbearable for non-Kavango West inhabitants. If this is not stopped, it will become a problem in the long run.”

Matter of principle

However, Ausiku, when contacted for comment, rubbished tribalism claims.

“The reaction on this matter is not tribally motivated, but a matter of principle and out of courtesy,” Ausiku argued.

“The company under discussion has previously rendered services in the region, including at the Nkurenkuru Expo. Further, many entrepreneurs not from the Kavango West Region are awarded construction projects in the region.

"Out of courtesy, it is expected that when offices, ministries and agencies host events in any region, the region, especially at the regional council level, must be informed of such events and be involved in the preparations.

“It is about sensitivity towards inclusivity to promote deliberate and equitable national development. Kavango West is among the poorest regions, and this is at the heart of this matter, not the alleged tribalism.”

- [email protected]

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Namibian Sun 2024-07-17

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