The fallout from the N$6.5 million trip to Russia by 172 Namibian youth continues with the suspension of two National Youth Council (NYC) employees who allegedly received N$60,000 each
as subsistence and travel (S&T) allowance for a planned preliminary trip to Sochi that was later cancelled.
Sources claimed this week that NYC’s Kristofin Kandungile and Samuel Aochamub have been suspended after they allegedly converted the money to their own use even as NYC Executive Director, Calista Schwartz-Gowases, cancelled the trip in August 2017.
The Windhoek Observer can also reveal that Air Namibia is yet to receive an outstanding payment of N$4.5 million from NYC in airfares despite an agreement that was concluded by council Chairman, Mandela Kapere, former SWAPO Party Youth League member, Neville Itope, and the national carrier which stated that no flight would take off to Russia without a 50 percent down payment for the trip.
Itope was the chairperson of the preparatory committee for the trip.
Despite the agreement, Air Namibia allowed the chartered flight to leave Namibian shores on 10 October 2017, before payment was made.
Only N$2 million, which was contributed by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Namdia and NYC, through the assistance of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, has been paid so far to Air Namibia.
Kandungile confirmed receiving the S&T payments, but said she is in the process of paying it back.
“What happened is a normal procedure like in any other institution. I received the money for S&T and later when things didn’t work out, plans to go were cancelled. During this time I had used up the money already on buying clothes and so on.
“What I received is about N$15,000.
“I don’t see what the problem is, who is telling you all this? I am in the process of paying back the money,” Kandungile said.
Namibian representatives at the Sochi meeting were seen posting photographs on social media partying and drinking Vodka non-stop during the festival.
This week, the Windhoek Observer learnt from a source familiar with the dealings at NYC that Kandungile and Aochamub were suspended for using the S&T to purchase personal items that included a car.
Kandungile serves as the Personal Assistant to Kapere while Aochamub is NYC’s IT technician.
NYC’s Corporate Communications and Marketing Officer, Brian Prince, confirmed the matter, but denied any suspension.
“Under normal practice, the two are entitled to travelling allowances, which they got. Due to some new development that impacted on the arrangement, the date of departure for the advance team changed. This led to their departing later than previously scheduled.
“Financial control demands that when a trip is not embarked upon or the departure date is delayed, like in this case, it is right to pay back the travelling allowances for those days that trip did not occur. The change in dates and delay in the departure of Ms Kandungille and Mr Aochamub demand that the travelling allowances paid to them for those days they did not travel be refunded. It is in this regard that a formal letter was written to the two colleagues requesting them to refund the travelling allowances for those days.
“We have reached an agreement with the two on how the money will be paid,”Prince told the Windhoek Observer.
When asked to specify the exact money paid to the two employees, Prince said “I don’t want to break the agreement we have with these people at the moment.”
Of the 172 delegates, who went on the trip, only seven were from opposition parties.