NDC in Contract Breach

CONTROVERSY over tenant recommendations for the newly constructed Outjo Tourism Centre could cost the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) about N$700 000 for alleged breach of contract.

Sources say the Outjo Municipality has recently been at odds with the parastatal over tenant recommendations that were made during last year’s interviews, where two tenants were chosen for the building’s restaurant and information centre.

The interview panel consisted of five panelists from the NDC, two from the municipality and two representatives from the business community. Sources told The Namibian yesterday that despite the panel recommending the two successful tenants, NDC’s industrial development manager Koos van Staden underhandedly switched the recommendations to accommodate business partners Corrie Labuschagne and Pieter Esterhuizen, who both applied but allegedly failed to meet the requirements.

The Namibian has it on good authority that both Labuschagne and Esterhuizen were awarded the lease, but have now been requested to vacate the premises because of the ongoing dispute between NDC and the Outjo Municipality over their recommendations. The partners are demanding that NDC pay N$700 000 in damages, which they claim they have incurred.

Labuschagne is the project manager of Nexus Group, the company that was contracted with the construction of the N$45 million building.

Outjo Municipality’s CEO Joseph Urib confirmed that the council has been in marathon meetings with NDC over the saga but said he could not comment further. He said the last meeting the municipality held with NDC was on 17 June 2014, where a decision had been reached on the way forward.

“The Outjo Municipality is dissatisfied with the fact that NDC, through its Participatory Management Committee, has recommended applicants, who had been denied occupation based on the fact that they do not meet requirements,” said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The source revealed that NDC was forced to re-aertise for tenants recently, after it emerged that Koos had manipulated the outcome of the interviews.

Labuschagne told The Namibian yesterday that he and Esterhuizen were the only successful applicants and that for some unknown reason, the Outjo Municipality had denied them the right to conduct business at the centre.

“Our lease agreement started on 1 March 2014 and the lease was supposed to be for three years, but we received a notice from NDC in April to vacate the premises by 30 June with no reasons given as to why our contract was terminated,” he said, adding that they have since vacated the premises. He said that they had so far employed 10 people who are now left jobless as a result of the breach of contract.

“We are now sitting with a debt of N$700 000, which includes the outstanding salaries of our 10 employees,” he said. Labuschagne said that he is now in negotiation talks with the NDC on how the company can compensate for their losses. “If the NDC fails to negotiate with us, then I will have no other option but to exercise my legal rights,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Koos denied making any recommendations in favour of either Labuschagne or Esterhuizen and referred The Namibian to the company’s Senior Manager of Corporate Services, Wessel !Nanuseb.

!Nanuseb described the situation as “water under the bridge”, and confirmed that both Labuschagne and Esterhuizen were requested to vacate the premises, but declined to give reasons for the evacuation. “We have re-aertised for tenants a few weeks ago. Currently we are in talks with both Labuschagne and Esterhuizen, but I cannot give any more details,” he said.

Nanuseb also said the N$700 000 in losses being claimed by both Labuschagne and Esterhuizen was still being investigated. “We are not sure whether there is any truth to their claim,” he said. The Mayor of Outjo, Kleophas Geingob, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Source : The Namibian