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‘Globetrotting’ ministers accused of milking SOEs

2023-07-14  Aletta Shikololo

‘Globetrotting’ ministers accused of milking SOEs

Parliamentarian Henny Seibeb has accused ministers of turning parastatals into cash cows to foot their globetrotting desires through subsistence and travel allowances.

He particularly singled out current and former tourism ministers for requesting S&T from the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF).

This follows revelations that higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi has been claiming S&T from parastatals resorting under her ministry, which has since caused a public stir.

Even finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi was quoted by local media as saying there is “no directive” in terms of the Public Enterprises Governance Act for entities to pay for ministers’ travel-related allowances.

During a recent parliamentary session, Seibeb alleged that tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta, his personal assistant and Uahekua Herunga – Shifeta’s predecessor – have been requesting S&T from the EIF to participate in the Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings.

Seibeb wants Shiimi to initiate an investigation which will determine the veracity of the allegations. 

The findings, he demanded, must be presented to the august House for scrutiny. 

“Can you confirm or deny that when public enterprises were transferred to your ministry, you received subsistence and travel allowances’ requests made to the Environmental Investment Fund by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism [Shifeta], but you refused to accede to such requests, arguing that it is wrong and that all ministries must budget for [their own] subsistence and travel allowances?” Seibeb asked Shiimi in the National Assembly this week. 

He further requested Shiimi to produce the letter of request by Shifeta, and his concomitant response.

Seibeb also questioned when the Shiimi-led ministry will develop laws, regulations and policies prohibiting ministers and their support staff from requesting S&T from public enterprises.

“Can you investigate by writing letters to all the managing directors, CEOs of all public enterprises, and request them to provide whether they have not received subsistence and travel allowances’ requests from the Executive, and the amounts thereof?” Seibeb submitted. 

Both Shifeta and Herunga vehemently denied Seibeb’s allegations, with Shifeta categorising the claims as “inaccurate and damaging,” while Herunga dismissed them as “mere speculations”.

Shifeta said: “That is incorrect, and I have not applied for anything from the EIF. For that matter, ministers don’t deal with money or accounts. As a minister, why would you apply for S&T? When ministers travel, it is the accounting officer who is responsible for facilitating everything. We don’t get involved in decisions that involve money allocations; all we do is motivate the budgets, but anything else after that is out of our hands. Seibeb’s statements are not true, and I challenge him to provide proof, unless what he has is forged.”



Shifeta clarified that the public perception of ministers claiming S&T is incorrect, emphasising that if such claims are really done, then it is illegal.

Herunga said: “I have been out of that office for close to 10 years now, and I don’t really remember much. But I am quite sure I have not claimed any S&T from the fund, [so] those are just speculations”.

When approached yesterday, Seibeb stuck to his guns, saying his information came from impeccable sources. 

Herunga and Shifeta, Seibeb said, are “denying the truth”.

“Obviously they will deny. Those ministers have been claiming S&T when the ministry’s budget is exceeded, especially when they attend COP,” he told New Era.

Seibeb gave Shiimi until yesterday to respond to his claims, or deny them so that he provides proof.

“The issue is whether there is a policy that allows it or not. I want the minister to go back to the books of EIF from the days of Herunga, and investigate how much has been used so far,” he said.



Asked how the matter will affect the governance of the institutions where money is being claimed from, Seibeb said: “If you look at the Public Enterprises Act, do they allow such a thing, and at a Cabinet level, have they ever discussed it? It is like the President [Hage Geingob] requesting money from the investment board just because it falls under him to go and attend an investment expo in Shanghai for example, can that be done? No, it is wrong.”

Attempts to get comments from both Shiimi and the EIF were futile.



This sentiment is also supported by public policy analyst Marius Kudumo, who stated, “There are certain standards that public office-bearers should uphold, especially in terms of carrying out their functions, as well as their conduct”.

“Article 42 of the Constitution, which deals with ministerial accountability, explicitly states that ministers should not expose themselves to risks that can develop into conflicts of interest. Essentially, public office-bearers must earn the trust of the public in their relationship with them.”

If the allegations regarding ministers claiming S&T from SOEs are true, Kudumo said, it could undermine the public’s trust in their offices. 

“These are not positive stories, and they raise questions about their ethical and moral standards. As a member of the public, this is not an acceptable behaviour to witness,” he added.


Shopping spree

Seibeb also blasted ministers and government officials who exploit international summits and conferences as opportunities for personal “shopping sprees”.

He used Shifeta as exhibit 1. 

“When ministers in other countries like South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe attend summits, they attend throughout and deliberate on issues affecting their countries, while our ministers are just shopping around. When they return to Parliament, they struggle to articulate the basic aim of the event or answer questions about such events, like Shifeta is always doing. Pathetic. They struggle to give reports on issues addressed at the events and how they affect their ministries because they do not really go for summits; they go on shopping sprees,” the sharp-tongued Seibeb charged.

During a recent international event, a local journalist observed first-hand how members of parliament were allegedly missing out on important engagements while “aimlessly” wandering in different cities.



Late yesterday, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) appealed to those accusing Kandjii-Murangi of corruption to provide documentary evidence. 

“Though the ACC is satisfied with documentary evidence the executive director submitted, the ACC shall still serve summons to the respective heads of the three institutions to depose affidavits, and confirm proof by the ministry.  The amount requested and paid by the three institutions does not amount to a million [dollars] as alleged in the media,” reads the statement.

The ACC appears to exonerate the minister of any wrongdoing involving Nust, Unam and the Namibia Training Authority . 

“What prompted the executive director (Alfred van Kent) to reach out to line institutions to pay the travel allowances sounds plausible.  The short time between the date of request and the travel date was mainly the reason.  To be specific, in respect of the travel to Korea, the letter of request from the personal assistant to the executive director is dated 28 June 2023, and the 10th Minister of Education and Youth World Forum was held from 1-11 July 2022.”  

It continues: “Documents at the disposal of the ACC do not prove that the minister was personally involved in requesting money from the institutions under her watch.  Government has policies and procedures governing travel advance payments and claims upon return from the trip.  

“The minister will also be served with a summons to depose a statement under oath, and confirm that she does not owe the ministry any amount of money.” 


2023-07-14  Aletta Shikololo

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