We are compelled to reiterate our grave concerns about the negative trend where the president remains silent in the face of compelling public evidence about the culpability of his appointees when losses to our depleted State coffers are concerned.
The president, as the appointing authority, can, and must take, action when the public trust is betrayed by those he appointed to office. He must hold his appointees accountable for any actions taken that were contrary to processes, procedures and policies.
He cannot pay lip service to corruption and not act decisively. His actions, in fact, set the zero tolerance climate in which the ACC, Ombudsman and the Courts proceed on their separate paths to hold all citizens accountable to the law.
Right now, there is an ongoing national debate regarding Geingob’s decision not to hold Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi and Secretary to Cabinet George Simaata accountable for what happened at the failed SME Bank.
It is our view that the board of the SME Bank should take full responsibility for the closure of that institution. They approved the imprudent ‘investment’ of N$200 million resulting in its loss and the betrayal of not only the 208 employees who have lost their jobs, but the trust of business entrepreneurs across the nation who are desperate for financing options and were promised an SME Bank.
To explain his position, the president has claimed that he cannot take any action because the matter is with the courts.
He also said that both Kapofi and Simataa, in their capacity as chairman of the bank at different times, were forced to be on the board and therefore, are not accountable because they had to do something they did not choose to do. We believe these statements are disingenuous.
Legal action with the courts is completely separate from the accountability of officials to their appointing authority.
The Deloitte and the King IV corporate governance codes state that boards are responsible for risk governance structure and oversight. These reports advise that a board approves an organisation’s risk appetite and monitors the actual risk. If this is not done, then the board is acting imprudently and must be responsible for the results.
In this same vein, we continue to reiterate the lack of accountability over the loss of the Kora millions more than 18 months later. While the NTB valiantly struggles in the local courts to recover money that the culprit, Ernest Adjovi, refuses to refund in full for services he did not render, the question still begs: who is responsible for the N$23.5 million paid into a foreign bank account, for work not done.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) promoted the Kora Awards event to be held in Namibia, provided the funds via MET to the NTB budget for the payment and ordered the amount to be rendered. He bears responsibility for the outcome. And yet, he has not been held accountable.
Regardless of what happens in the Namibian courts regarding the demand for a full refund from a non-Namibian residing outside the country and with foreign assets, the responsibility for poor financial decision-making in sending the money out in the first place, lies with Minister Pohamba Shifeta.
The minister’s appointing authority, President Geingob, must hold him accountable, but not a word has been said about the missing Kora millions.
The country is in an uproar over the N$47 million in State funds committed by the Attorney General, Sakeus Shanghala, for overseas legal action on the genocide issue. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has stated that the funds must be paid as the work done was engaged by the AG. At the same time, she also clarified that her ministry has no knowledge of the agreement and has no role in evaluating the work done.
Members of Cabinet also stated that they did not deliberate or approve the tens of millions spent by the AG. The ACC has now waded into the affair by launching investigations. The appointing authority for the AG must act. Regardless of pending invoice disputes, ACC queries or possible legal action, the trust involved in the AG’s appointment to high office has been betrayed. There is no way that the AG can indebt the Government on his own. And yet, that is what appears to have happened.
Geingob’s silence in the face of financial malfeasance by his appointees is unsettling. He has targeted his political enemies with accusations of corruption and yet, the looting going on in government is under the watch of his own government’s officials.
How long will this go on?