Industrialisation and trade minister Lucia Iipumbu yesterday said the ministry was investigating allegations of corruption and mismanagement made against senior officials of the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (Nida).
This follows after staff members penned a second letter to the government, this time to Iipumbu requesting urgent intervention at the agency.
The staff members allege mismanagement, corrupt practices and siphoning of funds totalling millions of dollars by what they call unlawfully appointed officials.
The first letter in March this year was addressed to President Hage Geingob. “We are investigating the matter together with the Ministry of Public Enterprises.
In fact before the circulating letter from the employees we wrote to the governor of Kavango West notifying her that we are dispatching a team to be led by the deputy minister who will be there as from Thursday the 30th with officials from both the ministries of trade and public enterprises. Those and other issues of Nida are receiving urgent attention by the two ministries,” Iipumbu said. The letter of complaint, written on a Nida letterhead, containing an official Nida stamp and accompanied by numerous invoices and payment receipts, alleges that governance at the agency is becoming worse.
One of the many allegations in the correspondence is that Nida’s top brass is hand-picking law firms that have been paid more than N$2.6 million to represent the agency in internal human resources disciplinary hearings.
The allegations are specifically directed to Nida’s executive director, Uparura Kuvare, and the entire Nida board of directors.
“It has now become a norm for Mr Kuvare to suspend employees and make use of the same law firms to attend to the disciplinary actions. The latest incident is that of Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR) labourers who were suspended for allegedly stealing meat and milk (valued at less than N$15 000) for own consumption, whereby Mr Kuvare hired lawyers to attend to the matter at a cost of N$417 401.00 (see attached proof), meanwhile, human resource personnel are sidelined and kept out of the proceedings,” the letter charges.
“One example amongst many others, is that Mr Kuvare hand-picked a company called ‘Southern Cross Marketing & Management’ to supply pollen at Naute Irrigation Project at a cost of N$1 725 406.16, and even after having been informed that this company owes Nida N$2 500 000 he still insisted for the business transaction to be completed and endorsed payment to the company (proof attached). Our fellow employees at Kavango Cattle Ranch have on numerous occasions launched their grievances, but to no avail. The employees suffer from poor working conditions and victimisation. They allege that 7 000 cattle have disappeared from the farm during the tenure of Mr Uparura Kuvare. They say, all they see is trucks entering the ranch to load cattle (mostly during the night) and once they question this practice, they become victims,” the staff members allege.
The letter further alleges neglect of Nida’s properties around the country and the suspension of the company’s properties manager, Sarel Losper, without any formal or informal charge.
Kuvare yesterday declined to comment on the allegations, saying he would hold a media briefing tomorrow on the matter.
Nida was formed through the amalgamation of the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) and the Offshore Development Company (ODC). “Upon taking office, Mr Uparura Kuvare dissolved the management of the two former government entities (NDC and ODC), which therefore gave him the absolute autocratic power and authority over all the operations of Nida.
“To date Nida, which is a state-owned enterprise established by Act 16 of 2016, has no substantive management in place and Mr Uparura Kuvare remains the only person with a say on the operations of the agency. This is in contravention of both the Nida Act 16 of 2016 and Public Enterprises Governance Act 2 of 2006,” the letter further reads.
The staff further accuse Kuvare of extending his own contract with an increased remuneration package without submitting a board resolution to the human resources department, of delaying the appointment of a substantive CEO and of exorbitant subsistence and travel claims.