Geingob should axe Shanghala

01 November 2019 Author   NYASHA FRANCIS NYAUNGWA

Political analyst Henning Melber says he doesn’t understand why Justice Minister Sakeus Shanghala still remains in office despite the long list of failures and shady deals that he has allegedly been involved in.

Melber said President Hage Geingob should, as part of his election campaign, prove to the electorate that any minister involved in shady deals or who is accused of corruption is a liability for good governance and should not remain in any high office representing the state and government. 
“I would imagine that such an announcement with consequences taken now would be a smart and long overdue contribution to add more legitimacy to the constant claims that he is serious about fighting corruption and/or mishandling of public office,” Melber said of the president. 
“Shanghala would be a long-overdue example to document the seriousness of intentions. It makes one wonder what information he might have, which seems to make him almost untouchable.”
University of Namibia Lecturer Ndumba Kamwanyah opined that Shanghala is a liability, distraction, and poses a risk to the president's election campaign and administration. 
“Perhaps in politics, it works differently but if it was in the corporate world, any firm/company would have long dropped him. This is not to suggest that he is guilty of anything but merely stating that his name cropping up in every questionable deal this country has experienced cannot be an asset to anyone, let alone the president of the country,” he said.  
The political analyst said under normal circumstance, any person with a sense of self-worth and dignity would not wait to be dropped but would rather excuse her/himself to avoid being a distraction to the president's cause. 
“Certainly, if the president is serious about stemming out corruption, Sacky's questionable dealings are not something that can make him sleep. Equally, the president will have a lot of thinking reappointing him in his next cabinet, if he wins the election.”
Shanghala, who is almost guaranteed of going to Parliament next year after he was placed 53 on the SWPAPO Party 2019 Parliamentary list, did not respond to questions sent to him on Thursday while his mobile phone went unanswered. 
The Windhoek Observer had asked him if he thinks there is a political witch hunt against him and why is it that he is always at the centre of the storm whether it is connection with the KORA Music Awards scandal or the UK lawyers funding scandal? 
Other questions that he chose to ignore were on accusations that he took out suspense clauses in the KORA agreement and what he meant when he said that the KORA money is gone and the country should just let it go. 
The youthful minister’s name has been linked to several questionable state deals including the N$47m paid to UK based lawyers, the N$23m KORA Music Awards scandal and the lost electronic voting machines (EVMs) that threaten the credibility of this year’s general elections.
In February last year, the president was forced to move Shanghala from the Attorney General’s post to his current office in a mini-cabinet reshuffle after allegations of corruption surfaced. 
Shanghala became the subject of public ridicule after he announced in a statement last week that four electronic voting machines got lost after they fell from a trailer en route to a SWAPO Party Elders Council Congress in Outapi in 2017.
Shanghala said police statements were made with the Otjiwarongo Police and are in the possession of the ECN.
The electoral body also informed the public in a statement dated 20 October that it could not publicly divulge information about the missing EVMs as it feared “compromising ongoing police investigations”.  
However, Eagle FM reported on Thursday that Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga had said that the police haven’t received any reports of lost EVMs. Ndeitunga told the radio station that the police do not have any docket number for that case despite claims by the ECN and the police that they were investigating the case.
The Windhoek Observer reported in 2017 that Shanghala, who was Attorney General at the time, was the mastermind behind the N$47 million paid to UK-based lawyers for “legal work” done to supposedly prepare Namibia for a court battle with Germany over genocide reparations.
Leaked documents to the Windhoek Observer at the time, revealed how Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, wrote to International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, on 10 April 2017, seeking clarity on the legal fees to be paid to the foreign lawyers, including Namibian-born lawyer, Anna Uukelo.
There was a huge public outcry after a breakdown of the N$47m invoice handed over to Government by the foreign-based lawyers showed that they were claiming money for spurious expenses like waiting for Shanghala at a London airport, sending emails, messages and receiving air tickets.
For such “legal work”, the lawyers charged fees ranging from £10,800 to £12,000 (N$211,034 –N$234,499).
The lawyers also claim to have worked up to 20 hours a day, according to the documents which raised concerns among prominent local lawyers and academics, who argued that the fees and working hours were highly exaggerated.
The argument was that no lawyer can work for over 70 hours in a period of four days.
Schlettwein confirmed to the Windhoek Observer that the legal fees had not been budgeted for, while Chairperson of the Genocide Technical Committee, Tonata Itenge-Emvula, also declared that the committee was not involved in the hiring of the UK-based lawyers.
Shanghala has on numerous occasions defended his decision to appoint the external lawyers, including in the National Assembly, saying his decision was in the best interest of the country.
The justice minister was again in the news last month after local media reported that he was at the centre of the removal of conditions in the KORA awards deal that would have protected government from losing N$23 million in the scandal.
Shanghala has denied that he was not responsible for the KORA money going missing, adding there are deliberate political machinations at play to drag him into the debacle.
He denied that an agreement he had drafted led to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) advancing N$23.4 million to Ernst Adjovi's Telecom Mundial, which promised to host the controversial KORA music awards in Namibia in 2016.
But the Namibian sun reported on Tuesday that the former AG stepped in to offer his services to mediate and finalise the agreement to save legal costs, leading to private lawyers being dropped.
“Festus Weyulu from the AG’s office was assigned to assist with the final drafting of the contract. It is clear that the AG had struck out the suspensive clause that the NTB demanded inclusion in his advisory note to tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta and the reasons for that are unknown. Mr Shanghala can possibly be asked to explain the reasons for this. This had gravely compromised the bargaining position of the NTB,” the Namibia Sun reported quoting an unidentified source.
This comes as Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has called for the immediate resignation of the Electoral Commission of Namibia officials after it emerged on Thursday that the police are not investigating the lost Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as previously believed.
“Our democracy is compromised by the ECN by forcing political parties to use EVMs without a Voter verifiable paper audit trail,” Venaanis said at a press conference at his party headquarters in Windhoek.
“…..we believe that it is time for the ECN officials to resign because before a national election you are telling us a lie that the police are investigating the matter while there is no investigation. So if they can lie about a police investigation, they will surely lie three times more about election results…” – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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