WALVIS BAY – New fisheries minister Derek Klazen said he has disposed of his interest in a fishing company in which he held a 25% stake.
Klazen served on the board of directors and as shareholder of KKNU Holdings as well as
trustee of the KKNU Endowment Trust until Wednesday when he was appointed as the new fisheries minister, replacing Albert Kawana.
Kawana was subsequently appointed as home affairs minister. Klazen, who hails from Walvis Bay and also served as mayor of the town before his appointment as deputy minister of urban and rural development in 2015, faced criticism from several Namibians, who voiced their concern that the minister is compromised due to his close ties with the town, considered Namibia’s fisheries hub, as well as links to some fishing companies.
“My hands are clean and I don’t have any interest in the fishing industry, as I commenced with disposing of my shares,” Klazen told New Era yesterday.
In a statement sent to the media late yesterday afternoon, he said allegations of his alleged involvement in Omualu Fishing have been circulating since 2019.
Omualu Fishing gained notoriety when the documentary, ‘Anatomy of a Bribe’ by Al Jazeera, implicated Windhoek-based lawyers Sisa Namandje and Sacky Kadhila-Amoomo.
The documentary chronicled how politicians and politically-connected individuals gamed the system to derive massive kickbacks in the fishing sector, the so-called Fishrot scandal.
“These stories allege that I was a shareholder and director in Omualu fishing – and secondly, that I facilitated the sale or acquisition of bulk land in extension 10 and 11 in Kuisebmond and Narraville to and by Omualu Fishing,” the newly-appointed minister said in the statement.
He added that in September 2010, while still a teacher, he applied for fishing rights – just like any other Namibian and that the application was done through KKNU Holdings (Pty) Ltd, in which he held 25% shareholding.
“KKNU Holdings (Pty) Ltd, in turn, held 70% (later reduced to 60%) shareholding in the KKNU Endowment Trust. The KKNU Endowment Trust, in turn, holds 33.33% shareholding in Aluhe Fishing. Aluhe Fishing (Pty) Limited was awarded fishing rights in December 2011, effective January 2012,” he said.
He further explained he resigned on 29 February 2020 as a director of Aluhe Fishing (Pty) Limited and was informed on 21 April this year of his appointment as the fisheries minister and immediately resigned as a director and shareholder of KKNU Holdings and trustee of the KKNU Endowment Trust, with immediate effect.
“I also commenced the process of disposing of my shares in KKNU Holdings already for the sake of transparency. I have at no time served as a director or shareholder at Omualu Fishing nor do I hold any interest in any fishing company nor intend to hold any,” he said.
He added that the allegations of having facilitated the sale or acquisition of land by Omualu Fishing are also not true.
“The council at the Municipality of Walvis Bay comprised 10 councillors, who, during council sittings passed resolutions on land and other matters. As such, no single councillor can facilitate approval for land to an applicant or a group of applicants,” he said.