By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK A deputy minister, and not the legions of foreign paparazzi that descended on Namibia like a pack of wolves, is at the centre of a row regarding the US$125 000 paid to NBC for selling exclusive footage of the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt couple during their visit to Namibia. Senior managers at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are up in arms over a deal negotiated by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Leon Jooste that will see the broadcaster splitting the money with the Michelle McLean Child-ren's Trust on a 50/50 basis of US$62 500. The celebrity couple deposited the money into NBC's Capital Interest Account on Monday, June 19 but the deputy minister, who brokered the deal on behalf of the charity, says he has not yet received his client's share. In a letter addressed to NBC Director General Bob Vezera Kandetu dated July 17, 2006 signed by the deputy minister, he says: "I have been trying to get this money deposited into the Michelle McLean Children's Trust account as per agreement on a daily basis ever since, without any success at all and I even had to deal with a particular official who rejected to speak to me at all. Angelina Jolie has called me several times to enquire about this issue and I am running out of excuses." He wrote the letter so that Kandetu could urgently assist in a matter that is on the verge of "turning into an enormous embarrassment for myself, the NBC as well as for Namibia". In terms of the deal the NBC that made US$125 000 (N$900 275) through distributing exclusive visuals to Associated Press Television Network on June 07, 2007, the local broadcaster deposited N$450 137,50 into the account of the children's trust at NedBank - account number 11010006025. And after transferring the money, the NBC was to fax "the proof" of deposit to the deputy minister's office, according to documents availed to this newspaper. Several efforts to get comment from the deputy minister were unsuccessful as a secretary from his office said he was in Cape Town while his mobile was not activated. But Kandetu downplayed the controversy, saying the money was paid to the charity on Monday and that there is no controversy. He said in terms of the original agreement initiated by Jooste, the celebrity couple wanted to donate proceeds from the sale of their footage to a local charity. Kandetu said as Jooste facilitated access to the two Hollywood superstars, he chose the Michelle McLean Children's Trust after Associated Press expressed interest and indicated it would pay almost a million dollars for the footage shot by an NBC crew. "My colleague Menesia went back to the deputy minister asking if we could sell this footage. After he (Jooste) consulted with the couple, he said they agreed on condition that 50 percent of this money should be paid to Michelle McLean Children's Trust," he said. Kandetu said as the broadcaster is more financially pressed than the charity, he would have wanted to keep the whole amount and even tried to negotiate for a bigger cut. But the deputy minister reminded him that this went against the agreement. One source said there is a "total resentment" towards the deal among some NBC managers who are apparently "very, very negative towards the whole deal". But Kandetu says some people have a tendency of painting a controversial picture whenever they do not agree with certain decisions made from the top. The couple spent several weeks at the coast, where Jolie gave birth to their baby girl, whose first photo is reported to have fetched millions of US dollars. When contacted for comment, the Executive Director of the Michelle McLean Children's Trust Danie Botes promised to find someone to deal with the query but did not call back.
2006-07-12 00:00:00 12 years ago