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MPs in parliamentary fix... as Swapo launches investigation

2015-01-21  Mathias Haufiku

MPs in parliamentary fix... as Swapo launches investigation
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By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK - There are ongoing attempts to block two National Assembly-bound officials from the Kavango Region from making their debut in the national legislature on March 21, 2015, when new MPs are sworn in. The two are Marina Kandumbu and Annakletha Sikerete, who are at positions 70 and 66 on Swapo’s parliamentary list, respectively. Critics claim that two of the ruling party’s 77 National Assembly-bound members should not be allowed to serve as MPs because one was convicted on a charge of corruption while the other retired from her former employer after being declared “medically unfit to work”. Swapo Party secretary general, Nangolo Mbumba, yesterday told New Era that it is rather unfortunate Kandumbu has to go through this ordeal, adding that the party is busy ascertaining the facts from court and later to make a decision. “March 21 is still far, we were not aware when we selected our members but now that this situation exists, we have people who will collect information regarding the case so that the party can have a clear picture. As for Sikerete, I am not aware of any allegations against her,” said Mbumba. Mbumba said based on the information at the party’s disposal, the top leadership of the party will convene and decide whether Kandumbu should be allowed to go to parliament or not. “We have internal rules that must be followed and, of course, there is the Constitution that will guide us. So, instead of jumping the gun, we will take our time and take a collective decision,” he said. Kandumbu was last year fined after being found guilty of 55 counts of corruptly using her office to obtain gratification by renting out her subsidised house while receiving the housing subsidy. Critics are using this mishap to block her from going to parliament. Sikerete stands accused of allegedly resigning from her job a few years ago after being declared “medically unfit” to continue with her work. Kandumbu yesterday told this publication the law took its course when she was given a fine, hence she sees no reason why this issue should surface now. “Why is this issue only surfacing now that I must go to parliament? Had I not made it I am sure people would not have brought this up,” she said. Kandumbu referred New Era to Article 47 of the Namibian Constitution, which deals with disqualification of members from the National Assembly, stating that “when I go to parliament I am not contravening any laws”. Article 47 of the country’s legal instrument, which deals with disqualification of members states, “No persons may become members of the National Assembly if they: (a) have at any time after independence been convicted of any offence in Namibia, or outside Namibia, and for which they have been sentenced to death or to imprisonment of more than 12 months without the option of a fine, unless they have received a free pardon or unless such imprisonment has expired at least 10 years before the date of their election.” Secretary of the National Assembly, Jakes Jacobs, yesterday told New Era the fact Kandumbu was given the option of a fine by the court for her offence, as per the constitution, she is eligible for parliament. Sikerete was given the option of a fine, which makes her eligible to be sworn-in as a lawmaker. “I know these claims come from disgruntled individuals who want to stop me from representing the people,” Kandumbu hit back. Sikerete, allegedly resigned from her post as Regional Coordinator for the USAID-funded TUSANU programme in the entire Kavango Region. In fact, the NewStart Centre in Rundu under which the programme fell, yesterday informed New Era Sikerete never resigned but she was retrenched - quelling false claims her health condition forced her to step down. “I never resigned, I was retrenched after the programme I was working under came to an end. People are just making up stories because I was home during the time I was retrenched nursing an illness so people concluded that I resigned because I was not medically fit,” said Sikerete yesterday. On November 11, 2014, Kandumbu was found guilty of 55 counts of the charges by Magistrate Helen Olaiya in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court and fined N$100 000 or five years imprisonment of which N$90 000 or four years have been suspended on condition she repays N$87 887 of the subsidy she received in 31 instalments of N$3 000 from November 27, 2014, according to court documents in New Era’s possession. Olaiya ordered Kandumbu to make the last payment by May 31, 2017. Sikerete served as the secretary for the Swapo Party Women’s Council in the Kavango Region. Kandumbu, a former school teacher and principal, was employed as a planner at the Kavango Regional Education office prior to her election as an MP. She has since resigned as per the regulations of the country’s laws. The documents indicate Kandumbu received N$3 500 each month from 2005 to 2009 from the Angolan Consulate in Rundu, who were renting the house. “She wrongfully and unlawfully received gratification from the Angolan Consulate by having rented the house at the amount of N$3 500, while she was receiving subsidy,” Olaiya had stated. Meanwhile, as the inauguration date of the Geingob-administration draws closer, Geingob on Monday said in a statement that he will make a ‘major announcement’ on February 2 and subsequently announce the members who will form part of the presidency. “As far as the President Elect’s plans for the setting up of Namibia’s next government is concerned, he intends to make a major announcement on February 2, 2015. The Prime Minister is also preparing to hold three press conferences at which he will announce the formation of the Presidential Council, the Vice President, the Prime Minister as well as the Deputy Prime Minister,” reads the statement dated January 19, 2015. Together with its Presidential candidate, Swapo Party last year won the Presidential and National Assembly elections. The ruling party won 77 of the available 96 seats while Dr Hage Geingob scored over 80 percent of the total votes during the presidential polls.
2015-01-21  Mathias Haufiku

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