Anti-Corruption Commission director general Paulus Noa yesterday said the commission has opened a preliminary investigation into the alleged bribery scandal implicating a senior official of the City of Windhoek and two opposition politicians.
This follows a report by Al Jazeera yesterday in which Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) City of Windhoek councillor Brunhilde Cornelius claimed that she was offered money by a fellow RDP member Nicanor Ndjoze to drop objections against the tentative 5G deal in which the City has teamed up with Chinese telecom giant Huawei to install an internet network.
“The allegations were reported to the police and the police obtained the statements and relevant documents. Somebody must have shared the information to Al Jazeera before the police docket was transferred to ACC this afternoon (yesterday) for investigation,” Noa told New Era.
“We received the docket and shall study it before we decide on investigations.” Earlier this year, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) granted the City a Telecommunications Service Licence to enable it to optimally utilise the existing fibre optic network infrastructure to improve service delivery.
According to the Qatari state-owned broadcaster, Cornelius claimed in an affidavit on 19 June that she was allegedly offered between N$5 and N$6 million by the City’s information and communication technology strategic executive and acting CEO Reckliff Kandjiriomuini to allegedly stop resisting the signing of the agreement between Huawei and the municipality.
Cornelius claimed the money was offered to her through Ndjoze who is apparently an acquaintance of Kandjiriomuini. If successful, the agreement will allow Huawei to win an exclusive contract to build the 5G-telecommunication network in the capital. “He indicated that there is in excess of N$40 million that can be shared between various persons. He indicated that various councillors, ministers were involved or had an interest in this contract,” Cornelius claimed in the affidavit. According to Cornelius, Ndjoze, who is also the RDP director of elections, made it clear to her that he was allegedly working on behalf of his nephew, Kandjiriomuini.
“He indicated that I could be paid between N$5 to N$6 million if I stop resisting the signing of the MoU. He indicated if I wasn’t willing they would simply use political influence and power to push the matter through the council,” Cornelius asserted in the affidavit, which was made under oath at the Windhoek police station. In the affidavit, Cornelius claimed she was picked up on 20 June by Ndjoze after Kandjiriomuini had requested for a meeting at a local restaurant. On their way to the meeting, Cornelius said, Ndjoze informed her that ‘local guys who we can trust’ would set up a joint venture with Huawei. Cornelius further claimed how Ndjoze told her to “relax” and that she was in “good hands” after she informed him that she was scared to participate in such a scheme given the backlash caused by Fishrot expose. Cornelius had in May objected to the granting of the licence by CRAN, saying the Local Authorities Act of 1992 does not empower the municipality to provide any telecommunications services. Contacted for comment yesterday, Ndjoze denied the claims by Cornelius, while he also cast aspersions on Al Jazeera’s reporting. “I once had confidence in Al Jazeera reporting but now it is clear that they are just like other media that use propaganda. Bruni (Al Jazeera reporter) used me to connect and arrange meetings with Reckliff. She wanted to understand the concept of 5G. I don’t work for Huawei, neither do I consult for the City of Windhoek.” Kandjiriomuini did not respond to questions sent to him by New Era. City council management committee chairperson Moses Shiikwa said he was not aware of the issue and thus could not comment.
Meanwhile, CRAN yesterday confirmed that it has awarded a Class Comprehensive Telecommunications Service Licence (ECNS and ECS) to the City. According to a presentation by CRAN’s acting CEO Jochen Traut, the licence is awarded subject to the provisions of the Communications Act.
The City initially submitted an application for a Class Network Facilities Telecommunications Service Licence in March 2018. Notice of the application was first published in the Government Gazette in February 2019 and republished in February 2019 to allow the public to provide comments. Thereafter, as a contender of the licence, Paratus requested for condonation, which CRAN granted, to submit comments on or before 11 April 2019, then making oral submissions to CRAN, the City presented that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with Telecom Namibia for the commercialisation of its optic fibre network and CRAN pointed out that this agreement must adhere to competition regulations. According to City officials, Telecom Namibia was chosen for the joint venture because its strategic objectives are similar to those of the City, particularly as it relates to the realisation of a smart city concept. According to Traut’s presentation, the agreement with Telecom Namibia was finalised after a public procurement process was followed. However, the joint venture agreement does not give Telecom exclusive access to the city’s network infrastructure as Telecom is only engaged for the commercialisation of the existing fibre optic network. “Requests from other licensed operators will be negotiated on a non-discriminatory basis and in line with Infrastructure Sharing Regulations; and the City of Windhoek intends to invest more resources, to expand its optic fibre network from about 120kms to 400kms,” reads the presentation. Traut further explained that the network would also be linked to the Telecom Namibia Limited copper and fibre optic network within the city. Paratus in the meantime opposed the City’s application on the grounds that the municipality is not a legal person and thus may not apply for a telecommunications licence as well as that there is no resolution by the council authorising the submission of the application. In an earlier statement, cellular service provider, MTC, labelled the issuing of a telecommunications service licence to City as ‘anti-competitive’.