NYC Firm in Trouble

A CONTROVERSIAL company – Bridgehead Group Holdings – owned by the National Youth Council, allegedly paid N$300 000 to the council in three years although it made more than N$3 million.

Bridgehead is involved in several businesses including fishing where it has rights for seal, horse mackerel and pelagic fish. It also has an interest in information communication technology, mining, property development, hospitality and tourism.

The company has a 40% stake in Ukumwe, a seal processing plant, which exports seal skins and extracts seal oil. Bridgehead is also a shareholder in DMS Communications, a mobile firm that specialises in bulk SMS services.

Bridgehead board members are Natangwe Ithete, Armas Amukwiyu, Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, Salomon Ilovu, Beatrice Katungondo and Ogone Thataone.

The NYC invested N$1,2 million to get the company going.

The company that was formed in 2010 is understood to have earned more than N$3 million from fishing quotas but remitted N$300 000, while the rest of the money was spent, among others, on salaries for five staff and sitting fees for board members.

This is despite the fact that one of the reasons why the company was formed was to generate funds by tapping into the country’s natural resources for the benefit of the youth affiliated to the council.

It, however, appears that the company has become a troubled institution with allegations that finances budgeted for youth projects through the NYC are benefiting only a few.

Sources said Bridgehead Group Holdings only paid around N$300 000 to NYC “several years” ago and that there has not been any further payment.

“The money is not reaching the intended beneficiaries (the youth). Bridgehead was started to support the youth through various development projects but that has not happened since its formation,” said the source.

Sydney !Ganeb is the company’s chief executive officer as well as a board member of the NYC, while his friend, Armas Amukwiyu, a powerful Swapo politician, who also serves on the NYC board, is chairman of Bridgehead.

The Namibian reported last year that several youth leaders from the ruling party questioned how Amukwiyu and !Ganeb are serving on the subsidiary company while they are board members of the NYC.

They questioned how the holding company will be accountable to NYC if the board members, who are supposed to be watchdogs of the performance of the company, are also the managers.

Amukwiyu told The Namibian yesterday that he will only answer to detailed questions emailed to him by today.

“I was busy with official work today. I will answer. There is nothing to worry about. We are responsible leaders. The company was formed to benefit the youth and not just a few people,” he said.

The Namibian is informed that Bridgehead was in a financial crisis recently, to the extent that they failed to pay salaries for several months.

Some youth leaders are complaining that the NYC executive chairman, Mandela Kapere, has been sympathetic with !Ganeb and the Bridgehead leadership because of their political connections, to such an extent that it has affected the governance of the company.

The youth leaders in charge of Bridgehead Group and the NYC are predominantly those who supported and still back Swapo vice president Hage Geingob, the man tipped to be the country’s next President.

Efforts to get comment from Kapere, who embarked on a publicity campaign last year to explain that Bridgehead is a good story to tell and has been making progress, were unsuccessful.

Last year Kapere defended Bridgehead after The Namibian exposed the conflict of interest of its bosses who served on the NYC board.

Bridgehead’s CEO !Ganeb refused to comment yesterday.

Source : The Namibian