Trade PS accused of defying Treasury
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Gabriel Sinimbo, has sensationally claimed that some staff members in his ministry are plotting against him and have created divisions that he fears will sabotage and destroy delivery efforts.
Sinimbo’s shock claims follow allegations levelled against him that he was the driving force behind the awarding of a N$60 million tender to build the ministry’s new headquarters, opposite the Hage Geingob Stadium, to Candino Mining and Construction cc, owned by Dankie Nkoshi.
Sources in the ministry accused Sinimbo of making decisions without consulting Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko, as he directed the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) to commence with the project and he allegedly approved the funding request himself
A total of 31 companies submitted bids for the construction of the new headquarters, including Afrikuumba Construction (N$29 million), owned by businessman Titus Nakuumba, Hangala Construction (N$41 million), owned by entrepreneur Leake Hangala, The Kongom Trading (N$66 million), co-owned by Kongo Mokaxwa, Otesa Civil (N$66 million) owned by Elmo Kaiyamo, Baby Face Civils (N$65 million) owned by Vaino Nghipondoka and Octagon construction (N$63 million) owned by Indileni Kandele.
Leaked documents seen by the Windhoek Observer, show that the trade ministry awarded the controversial tender to Candino Mining and Construction on 17 May, 2016 despite the fact that the ministry does not have enough funds to complete the project.
Sources further claim that Sinimbo pushed for the construction project to go ahead, in contravention of a directive by the Ministry of Finance in April this year that placed a moratorium on unplanned capital projects and that all expenditure on unproductive assets, as government grapples with falling revenues and a widening fiscal deficit.
The documents from the ministry show that some funds for phase 1 (civil works) of the project had been parked at the NDC, a unit of the trade ministry, in recent years.
However, the N$41 million at the NDC was not enough to fully carry out all the activities under phase 1.
Professional fees alone for the project stand at N$10 million, and the cost consultants are AIG Quantity Surveyors, who have done similar work for the ministry of youth when Sinimbo was PS there.
Sinimbo is alleged to have instructed that the shortfall be taken from the N$60 million that had been earmarked for the construction of the Namibia Trade House in Luanda Sul, Angola.
“He has instructed the NDC to start the project, but there are not enough funds according to quantity surveyors. He ordered them to take money from other political and important projects in Angola and DRC,” sources allege.
“He is defying government’s moratorium, in light of the country’s fiscal challenges. He did not even consult the minister, and we were surprised to hear that some funny company with links to his friends had been awarded the tender,” sources further said.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer recently, Sinimbo, however, denied the allegations levelled against him, adding that there are people in the ministry who want him gone.
“I am not pushing for anything. It’s strange that people chose to fight matters in public. I don’t want that. Ever since I took over office last year, there have been a lot of misunderstandings here. I don’t know whether some people don’t want me here or there is an issue. Some even accused me of chasing after women. How do I chase people who are my colleagues?” Sinimbo quizzed.
He said other workers in the ministry have tried to make him look bad in the eyes of the minister.
“I have been accused of all kinds of things. Some feed the media and the minister lies about me. They want us to turn against each other, but because my minister is wise, I think he can see that. My minister is a man of integrity, and I respect him a lot. There is no way I can disrespect him. This is a matter that has gone as far as the presidency. I am really disappointed,” Sinimbo said.
“The tender for the headquarters is strictly confined to the servicing of the land (bulk services), with funds that were appropriated years back, and which have been lying in the account of ODC (Offshore Development Company), and for which all necessary approvals are in place.
“This is to ensure that, at any future date, when and if the moratorium is lifted, the construction of the ministerial headquarters will commence, without having to wait for the land to be serviced.
“During 2015/16 financial year, the Ministry of Finance passed a moratorium on the construction of offices. For our ministry’s headquarters, we had a budget allocation of N$9,2 million which we surrendered to Treasury, because of the moratorium.
“Under the current financial year, we have N$1 million for the headquarters and N$10 million allocated for the construction of BIPA offices, which will again be surrendered to Treasury, because of the moratorium. The ministry is fully complying with the moratorium on the construction of offices,” Sinimbo further said.
For phase 2, the ministry documents show that the project will require an additional N$20 million, which the ministry expects will be funded under a public private partnership (PPP) once the PPP Bill has been passed into law.
Questions sent to Ngatjizeko remained unanswered and were instead forwarded by the minister to Sinimbo.