Pohamba not a bully – Ulenga

Home Featured Pohamba not a bully – Ulenga

By Mathias Haufiku

WINDHOEK – The Congress of Democrats (CoD) president Ben Ulenga is convinced President Hifikepunye Pohamba is not the type of man who will bully SOEs to grant tenders to his family.

Ulenga was commenting on the ongoing controversy surrounding the awarding of a National Housing Enterprise (NHE) tender to a company in which Pohamba’s daughter, Kaupumhote, is a shareholder.

Ulenga believes relatives of high-ranking officials might benefit from institutions because of a general sense – albeit wrongful – of intimidation by corporate leaders, but not necessarily because they have been bullied into awarding tenders to such relatives.

“I know President Pohamba very well and he is not the type of person that will bully anyone to award a tender to his children. I have massive trust in him,” the CoD president told New Era on the sidelines of a press conference he held yesterday.

But while he exonerates Pohamba of any direct influence in the awarding of the tender to his daughter, Ulenga believes there is a natural advantage of people in power over those that are generally far from national resources.

“Naturally, companies that issue tenders will be intimidated by the mere fact that it’s the President’s child applying for the tender,” said Ulenga.

“President Pohamba could be correct in saying that he was not aware of his daughter applying for the NHE tender. But we need a general rule that guides the participation of people close to power in tendering processes and related matters,” said Ulenga.

Kata Investment, in which Kaupumhote is a shareholder, got a N$16 million tender from NHE to construct houses at Otjiwarongo.

There has been debate over the issue, sparking a ministerial response by Presidential Affairs Minister Dr Albvert Kawana in the National Assembly this week.

Kawana said a tender was publicly issued and Kata emerged as winner ahead of other applicants. The company received money from the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) to construct houses.

Kawana said the country’s constitution allows every citizen to actively participate in the economy, as long as such participation is legal.

Ulenga yesterday said in order to put this debate to bed in the future, Namibia needs a law guiding the participation of relatives of a sitting head of state in a public tender process.

“The type of leader he is, President Pohamba won’t intimidate anyone for personal gain,” said Ulenga.

“But going forward, we need a law preventing individuals close to the state from doing business with the state,” the CoD lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, former magistrate Peter Kavaongelwa, who is now an estate agent, issued a statement this week saying he was the one who introduced Kata Investment to the NHE. 

Kavaongelwa said he was tasked by the NHE to seek investors for the housing company and it was in that capacity that he introduced Kaupumhote and her business partner, Taschiona, to the NHE management with a proposal for a turnkey project.

“I arranged a meeting between Mr Uazuva Kaumbi of NHE, the business partners and myself. Mr Kaumbi undertook to take the matter up with his colleagues and after some months when I phoned him on a different matter, he informed me that the ladies have been successful,” Kavaongelwa said.

“I also believe that if the president was to have been involved in the matter, my assistance would not have been necessary,” he elaborated. 

* Additional reporting by Toivo Ndjevela.