The United Africa Group (UAG) has been accused of profiteering after it demanded N$3,7m from State House for accommodating Founding President Sam Nujoma in one of its Windhoek properties.
UAG is owned by business power couple, Haddis Tilahun and Martha Namudjebo-Tilahun.
The invoice sent by UAG’s finance department to State House comes as Nujoma and his wife, Kovambo Nujoma, are set to leave the property where they have been staying in for the past 3-years.
Sources close to the matter told the Windhoek Observer that UAG sought a retraction of the invoice after President Hage Geingob expressed his displeasure.
The couple came to Nujoma’s rescue when he needed a place to stay while his two properties - one in Eros and another on the outskirts of Windhoek along the Hosea Kutako International Airport road - where undergoing renovations, by buying an N$8 million property in the upmarket suburb of Klein Windhoek.
Nujoma has been living at the Tilahun house since 2015 when renovations at his two properties began.
Permanent Secretary in the Presidency, Samuel /Goagoseb, said State House has received the N$3,7million invoice, but has disputed it.
“We have seen the invoice. And we have disputed it obviously. They (finance department at UAG) then contacted me last week wanting to meet me apparently to verify some information, but we have not received anything by now.
“If there are plans to retract the invoice , then we have not received it yet,” /Goagoseb told the Windhoek Observer, before referring further questions to Nujoma’s Personal Assistant, John Nauta.
Plans to renovate Nujoma’s house were carried out under the former President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s administration, but were executed under the current government.
The Namibian reported last year that initially, government wanted to upgrade the security system at Nujoma’s house, but later decided to build a modern structure for over N$20 million. Nauta told the Windhoek Observer that a full structure was the last option after a quantity surveyor concluded that the “house was not fit to be renovated, but to be destroyed completely and erect a new property.”
He said renovations to one of Nujoma’s property were almost complete.
“We are just waiting for a minor thing that needs to be fixed that is coming from South Africa. He is set to move into the house this month,” Nauta said.
He, however, refused comment on the rental invoice.
“All I can tell you is that the agreement with government between the Office of the Founding President is the water and electricity and DSTV, which is covered by MultiChoice.”
Nauta said the water and electricity bills have been piling up for some time, and that the latest payments were in the range of N$200,000.
The Windhoek Observer understands that at some point, the water at the property was cut off.
“The municipality did not know who resides in the property,” Nauta confirmed to the Windhoek Observer.
Sources say that when /Goagoseb received the invoice, he informed Geingob immediately and the president was not amused as he was never happy that they (the Tilahuns) had accommodated Nujoma in the first place.
The UAG properties in Windhoek include the Hilton Hotel, First City Centre and Talas Building, Gutenberg Platz, Winco, Gutenberg Plaza, Capital Centre and Independence Building.
Namundjebo-Tilahun unsuccessfully challenged for the SWAPO Party Deputy Secretary General position alongside former Deputy Prime Minister, Marco Hausiku and Petrina Haingura.
She campaigned under the Team SWAPO banner, which was a rival group to that of Geingob’s Team Harambee.
Political infighting, sources say, have led to the fallout between Geingob and the business couple.
Namundjebo-Tilahun has in the past, built Nujoma’s house at his farm at Etunda, about 30 kilometres south of Otavi, according to Nauta.
Contacted for comment, Namundjebo-Tilahun questioned what State House wants if they cannot acknowledge that the invoice from UAG was sent by mistake.
“The invoice was an error, and we have communicated to them about that. Nujoma is a father for everyone and he should be treated with respect. The man liberated this country and this is how we want to drag his name in the mud over invoices?
“If State house cannot take the error made then why is it that they didn’t send back the invoice?”