Aupindi’s conviction unfair – Shaningwa

26 October 2018 Author   Eliaser Ndeyanale

SWAPO Secretary-General, Sophia Shaningwa, has leapt to the defence of the party’s central committee and politburo member and former Managing Director of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), Tobie Aupindi, who was convicted of corruption charges in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Thursday.SWAPO Secretary-General, Sophia Shaningwa, has leapt to the defence of the party’s central committee and politburo member and former Managing Director of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), Tobie Aupindi, who was convicted of corruption charges in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Speaking to the Windhoek Observer after Aupindi’s conviction by magistrate Helvi Shilemba, Shaningwa said it was unfair for the court to convict the younger politician over N$50,000 when there are people who have stolen millions of public money and nothing has been done to them.
“I think it’s a little bit unfair because there are people who have stolen millions and misused public money, but they have been let off the hook. 
Shaningwa insisted that the party will take no action against Aupindi despite his conviction. 
“I think he can even give back that money to the one who gave it to him. It should not be one sided,” Shaningwa said repeatedly.
Reacting to Shaningwa’s comment, political commentator, Professor Henning Melber, said  whatever decision SWAPO will take on Aupindi’s political future will indicate whether it condones corruption or endorses ‘a little bit of corruption’.
He said being convicted of corruption means Aupindi is corrupt.
“It is like pregnancy: you are either pregnant or not pregnant, but cannot be ‘a little bit of pregnant’. Aupindi is sentenced for being corrupt. That’s a fact as of today. The party now has to decide if corrupt people can remain members of the highest party bodies or not,” Melber said.
He, however, said Aupindi could be pardoned by the party if he can show remorse.
“If he shows remorse he should be able to re-enter the party at any political level as someone who has had his punishment and learnt the lesson, without being stigmatized for the rest of his life.”
Political commentator, Ndumbah Kamwanyah, said a conviction is a conviction, therefore there is nothing like small money. 
“Frankly speaking that is a lousy excuse coming from the SG. What message is she sending about corruption in this country? The right thing for the SG to do is to celebrate the conviction and condemn corruptible behaviors, no matter how small or serious.
“Serious, small or soft corruption, they all have the same negative impact on governance.  It is the judgement, based on the law, of the court to decide whether it is small money or not, and whether to convict or not.”
Kamwanyah said the fact the court had convicted Aupindi should be enough to show that it was a serious matter.
“Keeping him in the central committee and politburo is sending a wrong message to others. However, I don't think that the party will remove him because the party has created a precedent, bad precedent, of allowing convicted people to remain in its structures,” he said.  
Aupindi’s conviction emanates from a swimming pool that was built at his residence in Windhoek’s Hochland Park by Italian businessman Antonio di Savino in 2006.
The two men stood accused of lying to an investigator of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), William Lloyd, in 2010 by telling him that Aupindi had paid a swimming-pool company, LIC Pools, N$50,000 for the installation of a pool at his house when they knew Di Savino had paid for the pool.
It is alleged that Di Savino paid N$50,000 for Aupindi’s swimming pool in exchange for winning the tenders for the refurbishment of NWR resorts in several parts of the country. 
The trial started in February 2012.
Both Aupindi and his co-accused were fined N$50,000 or 30 months imprisonment each. 
In mitigation, Aupindi (44) had said he is the managing director of Dubai Panagea Golden where he receives a salary of N$170,000 and that he has four kids. The oldest is 17 while the youngest is six months old. 
He also indicated that he is a member of the SWAPO politburo and central committee.

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