SWAKOPMUND – Swapo vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah at the weekend blamed “jealous forces”, reportedly against Namibia’s progress in the fishing industry, for using some Namibians to steal from the country.
The Fishrot scandal revolves around the alleged payment of bribes from an Icelandic fishing company, Samherji, to government officials in exchange for Namibian fishing rights.
Nandi-Ndaitwah suggested, without mentioning the implicated Icelandic fishing company, Samherji, that they are the reason former Cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala ended up in prison alongside businessmen James Hatuikulipi, Mike Nghipunya, Ricardo Gustavo, Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi.
Also on the list of people to be added to the charges is lawyer Marén de Klerk, who is charged as a representative of Celax Investments, which was allegedly used as the conduit to funnel millions of dollars from Fishcor to the bank accounts of the accused.
The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa, as well as Icelandic nationals Egill Helgi Arnason, Ingvar Juliusson and Helgason Adelsteinn.
The accused are awaiting trial and face more than 40 counts, including racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money laundering, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
It is alleged by the State that they corruptly received payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia. According to the State, more than N$317 million was misappropriated and divided between the accused.
“It is a fact that some of those people who have lost their jobs are from one of the companies that have run away from this scandalous thing in the fishing industry. It is really a scandal because Namibia, since independence, has put in place mechanisms, processes and policies to safeguard our fishing resources,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told a well-attended Swapo rally at Swakopmund at the weekend ahead of this Friday’s by-election.
According to her, the fishing industry started very well and was contributing to the economic growth and development of the county. “However, because there were those who were jealous and against us… they, unfortunately, ended up using our people to steal from the country. This resulted in job losses, but thankfully government has already put in place a programme to recruit them back. So, don’t be misled by those who say that we don’t care,” she stated. Nandi-Ndaitwah then said the government can never defend wrongdoing, and will allow the law to take its course.
“The law has to take its own course and in reality, we are working very hard against this scandalous activity by making sure that those who lost their jobs are re-employed,” she added.
Swapo has been pulling out all stops to win back the Swakopmund constituency, which they lost to the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) during the 2019 local and regional council elections. However, the position was left vacant after IPC dismissed Ciske Smith-Howard after two years in office.
Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is also the international relations minister, further defended Swapo’s track record, saying its government takes care of the people, including the residents of the Erongo region. “Swapo has been taking care of Erongo, even though we have not been in charge of the region. That is what a people-focused government does. It is clearly evident that the Erongo regional council has not been functioning as it should for the past two years as Swapo was not in power. Therefore, you must go out in numbers so that the Swakopmund constituency can return to its rightful owner, the Swapo party,” she campaigned.
Also taking to the podium, Swapo candidate for the by-elections Salomon Nehemiah said the time has come for residents to make sure that they have the correct documents, and show up at the polling stations to vote.
“We need to ensure that the future of our generation and members citizens are in good hands, and we owe it to the residents of Swakopmund. We have seen that nothing happened for the past two weeks, and the time is now that you vote for me so that I can execute my duties,” Nehemiah said. The Swapo party had during the regional council elections lost the constituency against the IPC, which received 5 688 votes through Smith-Howard, while her then opponent Phillipus Munenguni came second with 3 260 votes for Swapo.