Magnet for mayhem?

13 April 2018
Notwithstanding the president’s statements about corruption in this week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA),
the recent revelations and contested accusations about President Hage Geingob’s previous dealings from more than 10 years ago when he was a paid consultant, iterate our growing concern about whether our current head of state is a magnet for people who are corrupt or whether he is a part of the corruption mayhem that seems to consistently revolve around him.
While details of the Radio France International (RFI) report entwining Geingob’s name with their Areva corruption stories are contested, there is definitely serious smoke around this issue. 
Usually, where there is significant and consistent smoke, there is fire, regardless of strong and credible refutations of any involvement in the issue by lawyer Sisa Namandje on Geingob’s behalf.
This latest brouhaha with Areva and the UraMin purchase or the N$3 million Geingob admitted that he earned on that deal when he was “on the streets” and not a minister or the tax exempt status that Geingob approved for Areva’s Trekkopje Mine as Minister of Trade and Industry, is part of continuous mist of shady deeds that seems to swirl around our president. 
Is it just coincidence or is he knowingly in the centre of corruption-tainted mayhem due to hubris. 
The track record of acts and accusations of corruption that swirl around Geingob, taken in totality, compels us to ask the question:  Is our president a poor discerner of integrity in his friends, ministers, associates and business partners or is he the source of the problem. 
We insist that it is of paramount importance for leaders to not only BE honest and act with impartiality and integrity (to the best of their ability), but be perceived to do so. 
Consider Jack Huang.  The Chinese millionaire who is also the business partner and friend of Geingob was arrested regarding a N$3.5 billion tax evasion and fraud case. He is currently out on bail and one wonders when/if this case will ever be resolved.
The accused Huang and Geingob have been business partners in a Sunrise Investments township development deal where an upscale suburb is planned.  The land was previously owned by Geingob via his Family Trust and his ex-wife Loine, but was sold in part to Huang with the president in December 2017 stating that the “township is gone” but, that “his kids” would benefit from an unclarified independent “restructuring” of the remaining Geingob Family Trust ownership percentage.
Consider the KORA All-Africa Music Awards founder Ernst Adjovi, who is a past friend of Hage Geingob and received in 2016, with the approval of the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, around N$24 million dollars of State funds for doing absolutely nothing. 
He was wrongly paid in full for services not yet rendered and the man simply took the money and ran.  One wonders if Adjovi had been an unknown KORA promoter, would he have been so trustingly sent tens of millions just because he has a big smile and a smooth con. 
Consider Enoch Kamushinda, a Geingob friend and dubious character who the Bank of Namibia in 2010 deemed to “lack integrity” and have no “respect for corporate governance” and yet was still allowed to be a minority owner of the doomed SME Bank, which was the golden arrow of Geingob’s plan to promote SMEs in Namibia while he was Minister of Trade. 
Kamushinda’s well-known reputation for past criminal charges and ethical compromise were such that the BoN did not grant the SME Bank a license back then, precisely because of his tainted past. 
Consider the closing of the SME Bank for poor board and management decision making that led to highly questionable investments.  Both Frans Kapofi and George Simataa served as chairmen of the board of the ill-fated SME Bank.  Both bear a level of responsibility for the bank’s ignoble closure. 
The SME Bank had invested N$231.8 million in South African entities and with the exception of N$37 million that has been returned, the money is gone with the wind.
Geingob, in July 2017, did a ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ routine when he questioned why the two senior bureaucrats should be blamed for the poor SME Bank investment decisions approved by the board they led.
Consider the feathers that ruffled when in a December 2016 speech to the business community in France, President Geingob promoted an energy company co-owned by his own daughter during his speech. 
InnoSun was formed in 2008 by French company InnoVent, who partnered Black Diamond Investment as a Namibian shareholder.  Black Diamond Investments is partly owned by Geingob’s daughter Nangula Mumbala.
The concern here is about the lack of immediate disclosure to the French business community that the company producing the solar energy projects he was applauding was co-owned by his own daughter.
Consider the February 2018 announcement of the Cabinet reshuffle, when the President said, “I have particularly been disturbed by various allegations of corruption, maladministration and/or incompetency, mostly directed at the ministry of works; the office of the attorney general; [and] the ministry of mines…” 
And yet, instead of firing or demoting his ministers tainted by accusations of corruption, he reshuffled them to other portfolios where they maintain their ministerial rank, power, perks and benefits. 
Geingob announced that attorney general Sacky Shanghala as the new justice minister, mines minister Obeth Kandjoze as the economic planning minister, and Alpheus !Naruseb as the new agriculture minister. 
Presidential allegations of corruption in government ministries are no small thing.  Choices of ministers reflect directly on the president, they serve at his behest.  Their successes belong to the administration as do their failures.
As the president called corruption, “Enemy #1 in Namibia” during the SONA, he seemed to backtrack on that lofty labelling by saying that the reports of corruption are overstated and “…propagated by [the] media that [says] government is not doing enough.” 
Then he mentioned 60 ACC cases in 2017 that have been investigated and handed-over for prosecution, deftly staying away from citing the number of actual convictions for corruption in that same year.   These are but a few examples we cite as a part of our concerns. 
We are concerned about incidences of corruption in the personal, business or political space of the current president.   We are examining the climate around the president that apparently allows corruption to thrive and we question his statements vs his actions regarding stifling it. 
The points we make for consideration cannot be a coincidence all of the time.  One or two of the issues on their own can arguably be attributed to opportunists that always flock to those in power.   
But, with Geingob, we are concerned about the totality of the incidences of corrupt individuals, unethical business behaviour and choices, dubious dealings, and the perception of a pat on the back (rather than legal prosecution or job terminations) for those involved in such dealings. 
Where are the repercussions for those of his circle who misbehave and bring embarrassment to the president?   This is what we are reacting to. 
We believe that a national discussion of these points is overdue. 


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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