WINDHOEK – Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director-General Paulus Noa yesterday said he was satisfied with written explanations by three Cabinet ministers whom President Hage Geingob had asked to be investigated.
Geingob last year sought written explanations from ministers Sacky Shanghala (justice), Alpheus !Naruseb (agriculture) and Obeth Kandjoze (national planning), who were widely accused of corruption.
It was these allegations, admits Geingob, that necessitated reshuffling the three ministers in February 2018 – removing Shangala from the position of attorney-general, Kandjoze from the mines and energy portfolio and !Naruseb from works and transport.
Apart from reshuffling them, Geingob asked the three ministers to provide him with written explanations regarding accusations made against them.
Unsure whether the explanations were satisfactory, Geingob went on to submit the explanation letters to the ACC, so that the anti-graft body might apply its mind on the issues raised and whether there were grounds for further pursuance of those issues, including possible prosecution.
Geingob explained the background to his request in an exclusive interview with New Era in March this year, saying: “When we get reports of complaints, I like to consult. I called the ministers and I said ‘this is what is being said about you’. Some of them got very annoyed. And then I followed up with letters.”
“One of the issues contained in the ministers’ performance agreements is good governance and ethical behaviour, so when something is wrong we ask them. I am not targeting them. I didn’t charge them but I asked them ‘this is what is being said about you, what do you have to say?’,” the President further narrated.
“They all replied defending themselves but since I am not a judge, I handed this information to the ACC to investigate further. What I did in the meantime is removing them from the ministries they were at and some of them were very angry. It’s nothing personal, but we’re in this government to deliver goods. If you’re accused, you must clear your name – it doesn’t break friendship.”
Noa yesterday said he did not detect any incriminating answers from the ministers that warranted the watchdog to continue with further investigations against them.
“You must remember that these are replies that the ministers gave to their principal, it’s not that there was a letter from President Hage Geingob saying that there is this or that allegation against these ministers and the ACC should investigate,” Noa said.
“The reason why I am telling you all this is because I don’t want the impression to be created in the public as if there are certain corruption conduct that were identified and forwarded to the ACC to investigate – there was nothing like that. What was forwarded to us are the answers to the allegations and in those replies which I have read I have not detected anything self-incriminating to warrant an investigation,” he said.
Noa says some of the responses in the letters were similar to what they got from the said ministers during the ACC’s own investigation before President Geingob’s request to the ACC was made.
“We are still here waiting for anyone to give us an affidavit to give a ground for investigation, even you journalists, if you have evidence come forward with it so that we can launch an investigation,” he said.
Shanghala came under heavy criticism over the controversial payment of N$36 million in legal fees to European lawyers tasked to deal with the genocide of Nama and Ovaherero communities by German imperial forces in the early 1900s.
In August 2017 while speaking at Omuthiya, Noa expressed concern about how Kandjoze, using sections 44 and 45 of the Diamond Act of 1999, handpicked the company named C-Sixty for the multi-million dollar diamond evaluation contract of state-owned Namdia.
!Naruseb was works minister when several high-profile controversies, such as the cancelled N$7 billion airport tender which government fought tooth and nail in a battle that was won in the Supreme Court, were at their heights.
2019-04-17 09:42:52 4 months ago