The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director, Paulus Noa, says the anti-graft body will not be used for witch-hunts against any individuals for political gain.
Noa was reacting to enquiries by the Windhoek Observer, after allegations emerged this week that the ACC was probing the business dealings of those who are seen as political opponents to President Hage Geingob, ahead of the upcoming SWAPO Party Congress.
It is alleged in this week’s edition of The Villager newspaper that Attorney General, Sackeus Shanghala, had recommended a probe into Permanent Secretary at the National Planning Commission (NPC), Leevi Hungamo, as well as Vaino Nghipondoka and his company, Baby Face Civils, and the China Harbour and Engineering Company over the escalating costs connected to the National Oil Storage Facility, a tender which was awarded in April 2014.
The cost of the facility has ballooned from the initial N$900 million to an estimated N$4,5 billion, at present.
However, Shanghala on Thursday evening denied that he had ever made such a recommendation and that he had been “instructed by Cabinet to investigate any wrongdoing by Government officials, which led to the spiralling of costs of the project.”
Asked why this had not been reported to the ACC, he said, “One will assume that only ‘corrupt’ conduct is the purview of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and nothing prohibits anybody, including the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) from taking measures to deal with administrative matters, with a view to obtain a correction to an anomaly, such as spiralling costs.”
Nghipondoka said he had been called by The Villager this week, which wanted his comment about an ACC probe that had been launched against him.
The allegation was that the businessman was bribing Hungamo with cattle, in exchange for contracts.
The Villager is the same newspaper that has been behind a series of articles that have vilified a group of businessmen and politicians, who attended a wedding in Okalongo late last year, claiming that they had hatched a plot against Geingob.
Nghipondoka questioned whether this was a coincidence, or in fact a concerted campaign to discredit him and others.
The businessman is being viewed as the financier of a group that is lobbying for an unnamed candidate to contest Geingob at the SWAPO Congress. Ironically, he was also one of the financiers of Geingob’s campaign in 2012, which saw him defeating Jerry Ekandjo and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana in the race for SWAPO vice presidency, which automatically installed him as the party’s presidential candidate in 2014.
In his speeches so far this year, Geingob has repeatedly identified those he views as enemies, including in his opening address to Parliament on 15 February.
Geingob has also consistently beat-the-drum against alleged corrupt activities, which has been viewed as a signal that he will attempt to make graft allegations stick against his so-called political enemies.
Responding to enquiries about whether Nghipondoka was being probed, Noa said no case had been registered on the ACC case management system, so far.
“And even if it was reported in the manner in which you explained, it will be tantamount to a witch-hunt, if we start investigating with only that information.
“There is no chance for anyone to use the ACC for such things. We have checks and balances in place, which will make it very difficult for anyone to use the ACC for their personal things.”
Noa stressed that the ACC only starts investigations once they have received reasonable proof, and not just mere speculation.
“When I spoke at an Affirmative Repositioning movement event recently, I made it clear that we are not here for witch-hunting. You cannot arrest a minister, for example, just because someone speculates.
“We only do so when the allegations that are being made against a person, are concrete.”
Noa also indicated that all those who try to approach the body with the intention of using it for witch-hunts are then informed about the basis for the existence and operations of the ACC.