Edward Mumbuu Jnr
Former defence minister and the current Oshikoto governor, Penda Ya Ndakolo’s only asset to his name is a mahangu field, according to the 2019/2020-asset declaration for lawmakers.
The politician made this known to the public via the asset declarations by Members of Parliament (MPs), which is a requirement of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act of 1996.
Ya Ndakolo’s declaration of a mahangu field as his only asset reinforces the public perception that MPs do not take the process of asset declaration seriously.
Contacted for comment on Sunday, Ya Ndakolo told Nampa he declared everything he owns, including houses, vehicles and cattle posts.
“It’s not true. How can I have a mahangu field only? It’s not correct at all. I [completed the register] myself and submitted it to the office of the National Assembly,” he said.
“I don’t know what the problem with that document is. I mentioned everything including my three houses in Ondangwa, Omuthiya and Windhoek and a cattle post in one of the areas and even vehicles,” added Ya Ndakolo.
When it was put to National Assembly Deputy Speaker Loide Kasingo on Friday that a certain MP declared a mahangu field as their sole asset, she found it amusing and burst into laughter.
She said there is no way an MP can just have a mahangu field to their name.
“We must take [asset declaration] very serious according to the law. We are expected to be serious,” she said.
A review of the latest asset register of 2019/20 shows a trend of many politicians having nothing to declare, not participating in the exercise and in some instances, under-declaring.
Former information deputy minister Engelbrecht Nawatiseb declared a unit trust account with First National Bank as his only asset, not disclosing how much the investment was worth.
Former Swapo lawmakers Leevi Katoma, Marina Kandumbi and Paula Kooper all had nothing to declare. Gotthard Kasuto and Johanna Kandjimi did not disclose anything either. Nor did former National Unity Democratic Organisation MP Meundju Jahanika and Hambyuka Hamunyera, a Swapo member.
The same applies for Popular Democratic Movement representatives Elma Dienda and Jennifer Van den Heever.
Former Workers Revolutionary Party parliamentarian Salmon Fleermuys and Lusia Nghaamwa, the wife of former Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa declared nothing.
In essence, this is to say they do not have assets to their names. MPs are required to declare their shareholding and financial interest in companies, remunerative work outside of parliament, directorships, partnerships, sponsorships, gifts and discounts, property ownership, the value of their pensions, trusts and their spouses and children’s interests where the members benefit directly or indirectly.
This notwithstanding, parliament is still without an auditing system for the declarations made by MPs, leaving the accuracy of the asset declaration register solely pinned on the honesty of MPs.
When contacted, National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi’s office referred Nampa to Lydia Kandetu, the assembly’s secretary.
“All my office does is publish what the members declare. We cannot force them to declare or hold them accountable. They declare to the Speaker and only the Speaker can hold them accountable,” Kandetu said on Friday.
Fanuel Kaapama, a political analyst approached on Sunday for his view on asset declaration by those entrusted with public office and resources said: “The key issue is that this is not a voluntary exercise but a statutory requirement. If the MPs are not taking it seriously, it raises questions and points fingers to the Office of the Speaker.
If there are shortcomings and the credibility of asset declaration is being questioned, it’s this office that must allay those fears.”