WALVIS BAY- Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) is appealing to the fisheries minister to thoroughly investigate the allegations that it sold 5 000 metric tonnes of horse mackerel.
SPP says that a false narrative is being pushed by the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) that they sold the horse mackerel quota, despite them not being a right holder and thus having no authority to sell or dispose of any quota, unlike Fishcor.
SPP and Fishcor are at loggerheads over their partnership, which also resulted in a recent court challenge.
Allegations surfaced again last
week that the 5 000mt is unaccounted for, with fingers being pointed at SPP.
The general manager of SPP, Adolf Burger, last week told New Era that they have not sold the quota, but caught it and provided a detailed report regarding all allocations to SPP to the Fishcor board.
“About 1 800mt was left at the end of last year, but we made sure we paid all levies, and also detailed it in the report given to Fishcor,” he stressed.
New Era has also seen documentation as well as correspondence between Fishcor and SPP with regards to the said reports.
“In terms of the shareholders’ agreement, SPP is not entitled to sell any quota - only Fishcor has that authority. This agreement has been strictly honoured by SPP at all times. The ministry also has a detailed account on how all quotas allocated to SPP or any other company are utilised, and can be scrutinised,” Burger said.
He added that in 2020, they received 16 000mt, 5 000mt and a 4 000mt quota on three separate occasions.
Thus, from the gazetted 50 000mt, 24 333mt never reached them during 2020.
“As per the recon, 10 000 tonnes was sold by Fishcor in January 2020 for cashflow purposes on behalf of SPP, as agreed between the then chairperson of Fishcor and the line ministry.
We are, however, familiar with the fact that numerous horse mackerel quotas that have been allocated to Fishcor during 2019 to date were not passed on to SPP in terms of the gazetted shareholders’ agreement,” Burger continued.
Fishcor board chairperson Mihe Gaomab on Wednesday told New Era that SPP failed to provide evidence as to how they utilised the said 5 000mt quota.
“More especially, there is prima facie evidence that the said quota granted
to SPP in June 2020 was sold instead of complying with the conditions that were set out that this quota as well as the 4 000mt granted in August were not complied with,” he added.
In July 2020, Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste appointed economist Gaomab to the board of the corruption-riddled entity to stabilise the company and its subsidiaries.
Fishcor is currently at the centre of the Fishrot corruption scandal, where politicians and business people are accused of draining the company for their own gain.
Gaomab said they had to provide a report in accordance with a ministerial directive by the former fisheries minister on how the quotas allocated were utilised.
“Based on available evidence provided, we have common cause to proceed on addressing this matter on how the quota was allocated and utilised as per the minister’s directive”, he observed, adding that SPP did not comply with the directive, and they consider this non-correspondence and not providing proof on the quotas as a serious material breach of the directive issued, and that it is also inconsistent with the conditions to be complied with.
“Fishcor is concerned that these quotas, instead of employment sustenance as directed by the ministry, could have been sold, and the benefits of such proceeds of sale were not communicated to Fishcor. This should have been done by Monday, 31 August 2020,” Gaomab stated.
The matter is currently before court.
Asked to comment on the matter, fisheries minister Derek Klazen indicated that they have taken note, and will look into it.