Leading political analyst and academic, Professor Joseph Diescho, has waded into the SME Bank saga by accusing President Hage Geingob of having vested interests in the failed bank.
Diescho opined that the president will never take any action against those implicated in the missing N$200 million, which played a big part in the decision by the Bank of Namibia to apply for the provisional liquidation of the bank earlier this month.
He said any action by the president against the culprits is bound to backfire on him.
The outspoken academic criticised Geingob for his links with the politically connected Zimbabwean shareholders of the SME Bank, and for his failure to speak out against the questionable investments by the bank that resulted in 208 Namibians losing their jobs.
“I do not see the president taking action against SME Bank minority shareholder Enock Kamushinda, former SME Bank CEO Tawanda Mumvuma, senior executives and the two chairpersons namely, Frans Kapofi and George Simataa. It will backfire on him. There is no way that the Bank of Namibia Governor, Iipumbu Shiimi, would step in if things were going well at the SME Bank. How does a bank of that magnitude operate without being audited for three years?
“Here is a leader who would call a meeting with unionists to discuss a strike. And announce that it was important for him to step in. Here is a man who would pronounce himself on a matter of a child whose rights are being discussed in courts, and announce his displeasure with the ministry concerned. Yet on crucial matters such as abuse of authority and self-enrichment of individuals, he is sleep walking,” Diescho said.
He said it was impossible for the bank’s executives to invest N$200 million in another country without someone having given them directives.
Diescho claimed that Simataa, Kapofi and the foreigners involved were being sacrificed by people in higher offices.
“The executives of the SME Bank cannot just expatriate huge amounts of money without oversight authority from someone. Those guys were sacrificed, they were not entirely in charge of the bank as their positions say; someone was clearly controlling the remote on them.
“If you look at other State-owned enterprises (SOEs), they will not even be able to get something elsewhere or invest without approval. So everything stops with Cabinet and the president. The poor foreigners were just carrying out instructions from someone else. There is more to this matter than meets the eye. Officials of the bank whop enriched themselves were certainly not eating alone,” Diescho said.
Last week, Geingob, through State House Press Secretary, Albertus Aochamub, broke his silence on the missing SME Bank millions, when he explained that he will not intervene on matters that are before the courts.
“The administration has explained its position regularly and clearly. The president has maintained that we are a country of laws and we will follow the laid down due processes to deal with issues where public (and private sector) officials are alleged to have breached provisions of our laws,” Aochamub said.
“How can the president interfere as the Head of the Executive when matters are before court or at different stages of the judicial processes, starting from the SSC, GIPF, Kora Awards, to the SME Bank? Will you not accuse the president of contravening the very foundations of our Supreme law that he has taken an oath of office to uphold when he starts interfering with the judiciary? Where matters are before our courts, the executive always allows the courts to do their work in their own time and at their own pace.”
Diescho said Aochamub’s explanation was not good enough, adding that in other states, watchdog bodies such as the ACC and Ombudsman, would have taken the culprits to court already.
“Where is ACC’s Paulus Noa? Where is Ombudsman’s John Walters? If this type of corruption had taken place in other countries, these two institutions would have taken them to court to get the two chairmen – (Kapofi and Simataa) of the SME Bank would have been removed from their positions immediately in order to allow the process of investigation to go unhindered.
“In better democracies, this is the stuff that leads to an entire Cabinet resigning, as an act of atonement to the citizens. In greater democracies, there would be demonstrations of outrage to empower the Head of State to act against these officials who by our legal definition of corruption used their positions to enrich themselves. In fact, the laws are very clear, that action would have been taken by now. It is not the law that is at play here, but politics of survival,” Diescho said.
According to court papers, about N$200 million was transferred to a South African company called Mamepe Capital, which in turn transferred N$150 million of the money to VBS Mutual Bank, also in South Africa.
SSC invested N$150 million with the SME Bank, of which N$30 million was paid back on 13 June, as originally agreed. It has now also emerged through an online newspaper that N$32 million meant to fund this year’s November elective congress by the SWAPO Party-owned Kalahari Holdings cannot be retrieved.
The company has been funding SWAPO’s congresses over the years.