The Windhoek Observer is in possession of several documents which show that the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, was privy to the Angolan property deal between the trade ministry and Afrikuumba despite the minister claiming ignorance when he cancelled the deal on Monday.
Documents show that Schlettwein and his office were aware of the deal whose negotiations started last year in February pursuant of a 2001 Cabinet resolution.
The Windhoek Observer understands that the ministry of finance engaged the ministry of trade several times on the matter and even set conditions that needed to be met before it could make a decision to grant treasury approval on the deal.
Schlettwein, through his office, even instructed the government Valuer General, Rudolf Nanuseb, to evaluate the Angolan properties before a final decision could be made.
The minister is said to have instructed that consultations be held with the business community to assess whether there would be appetite among Namibians to do business in Angola, which culminated in a well-attended business conference at the beginning of this month at a local hotel.
A technical report prepared by the Director of Capital Project Management in the Ministry of Works and Transport, a certain Ms P. Kalo recommended that the properties are suitable for use as cold storage facilities, warehouses and related services.
“The Ministry of Trade, Industrialization and SME Development should consider buying the properties,” Kalo said in his report dated 17 April 2018 which was directed to the trade PS Gabriel Sinimbo.
However, following publication of an article in The Namibian on Monday which stated that the financially strained government wants to buy a N$117 million property in Angola from businessman, Titus Nakuumba, without the finance ministry's blessings, Schlettwein issued a media release the same day directing the trade ministry to abandon the transaction.
The minister’s instruction was based on the argument that no treasury approval had been granted on the deal nor were any procurement rules and regulations under the Central Procurement Board followed.
The Windhoek Observer is also in possession of a letter dated June 22 2018 addressed to the Minister of Trade, Industrialization and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, from the Procurement Policy Unit in the office of the Finance Minister.
The letter was a response to Tweya’s request for an exemption to purchase the property in question which had been sent to Schlettwein on June 13.
In the letter, Tweya was advised to get the property valued by the Valuer General.
He was also advised that his ministry’s accounting officer should engage the Central Procurement Board about the acquisition of the property as the procurement is above the threshold of the ministry.
The letter also instructed that Tweya’s accounting officer should await the decision of treasury for authorization in terms of Section 17 of the State Finance Act 31 of 1991.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week, Nakuumba said he was surprised to read in newspapers that the deal had been cancelled because they had followed the right procedures.
He said everything that had transpired so far, including the valuation of the property was based on instructions from treasury under the presumption that once that is done, the deal would be signed.
“There was a treasury approval being sought. He (Calle) cannot come and say that there was no treasury approval when the process was ongoing,” Naakumba said.
In his view, Calle flirted with his company for so long only to move the goal posts when the media reports of government’s plans to acquire the Angolan property surfaced.
“He was part of the process. In the first place, he should not have set conditions if he was not going to approve the deal. Some of the conditions had already been met,” Naakumba said.
Sources said the Angolan property deal was in fulfillment of a 2001 Cabinet decision which instructed the ministry of trade together with the ministries of agriculture and finance to jointly explore and put in place mechanisms to promote and facilitate the export of Namibian meat products to Angola.
The three ministries were instructed to identify suitable land on which to construct cold storage facilities and other related warehouses or purchasing of ready-to-occupy facilities in Luanda.
The Windhoek Observer is also in possession of a letter dated May 03 2018 addressed to trade ministry Permanent Secretary Gabriel Sinimbo by Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary, Erica Shafuda, in which she requests Sinimbo’s office to provide certain documents that would assist her ministry in making an informed decision.
In the letter, Shafuda requested a valuation report by the Ministry of Land Reform as well as a cost/benefit analysis of the acquisition of the Angolan properties and related expenses versus the development of the prime land that the ministry has already acquired in Angola for the purpose of constructing a Namibian Trade Centre.
Shafuda also requested the estimated cost for any improvements that would be required to convert the offered properties into cold storage facilities as well as evidence of the Central Procurement Board approval for the direct procurement of an unsolicited offer by the seller.
According to Naakumba, the trade ministry followed everything that had been requested including meeting with the Central Procurement Board.
“It would have been criminal if we had signed the contract without meeting conditions. As far as we are concerned, we did nothing wrong.
“Calle should have been fair and said they were engaging the ministry and had set conditions that needed to be met and once those conditions had been met, then he would have instructed treasury to approve or not to approve,” Naakumba said.
He added that government had even instructed the Attorney General to provide a draft agreement which was provided.
Further, the trade ministry was instructed to have a conference to assess whether there would be an appetite among Namibian business people to do business in Angola.
Through the NCCI, a conference was held on June 7 which received tremendous support from the business community.
Sources said that it was not true that there was no money to fund the purchase of the properties in Angola as there is currently about N$32 million in the account of the Namibia Development Corporation meant for that purpose.
Sources further alleged that there was an understanding that proceeds from the sale of a government property in Angola, which was previously earmarked for the Namibian Trade Centre, would be used to offset some of the costs associated with the purchase of the Afrikuumba properties.
The government property in Angola is currently on sale.
Critics said this week that Schlettwein had thrown his Cabinet colleague Tweya under the bus by ordering the cancellation of the deal making it look as if the minister had approved the multi-million dollar deal outside of the mandated processes.
Tweya, who is currently out of the country, did not respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him by this reporter.
Instead he sent an inspirational message which read, “Don’t pay back evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you, Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do and He will bless you for it.”
The Angolan properties Afrikaya One and Two owned by Afrikuumba (Pty) Ltd comprises of one large head office building, 5x3 bedroom houses, 4x4 bedroom houses, 1x4 room guest houses, entertainment area, swimming pool, gym, laundry room, workshops, staff accommodation comprising of 9x2 bedroom units and 17 single bedroom units.
Afrikaya two, measuring 1.4 hectares is a vacant piece of land adjacent to Afrikaya one surrounded by a brick wall.
Schlettwein did not respond to enquiries sent to him by the Windhoek Observer.