Pohamba’s Daughter Chases N$638 Million

THE participation of President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s daughter Kaupumhote in a race to win a NamWater tender worth over N$500 million has raised red flags of potential conflict of interest.

The Namibian understands that Kaupumhote’s company Kata Investment is one of three companies shortlisted for a NamWater tender to construct water pipelines in Swakopmund. Kata Investments had placed a N$510 million bid.

This latest bid means that Kata Investments is in the running for government contracts worth N$638 million within the last three months, while it has already won contracts worth N$116 million during the past year.

The other contracts include a N$47 million tender for the construction of bulk pipelines, reservoirs, booster pump station and water meter installations from Ondangwa to Omuntele in Oshikoto region for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

There is also the N$81 million contract for the construction of a 36,2 km gravel road from Epato, Otamanzi and Onaushe in the Omusati and Oshana regions for the Roads Authority.

Kata Investments is currently working on a N$100 million Road Authority project, which is expected to be completed by next year.

The company also received a N$16 million contract to build houses in Otjiwarongo from the financially-struggling housing parastatal, National Housing Enterprise.

Sources said Kata Investments is in pole position to scoop the NamWater tender. These sources also say the conflict of interest stems from the fact that NamWater’s board chairperson Esther Akwaake is First Lady Penexupifo Pohamba’s close friend.

The Akwaake-headed board is the highest decision-making body at the parastatal and will eventually have to decide on recommendations from the management of the state-owned company on who gets the contract.

Akwaake declined to comment on whether her position might result in a possible conflict of interest when the tender comes to the board for final approval. She referred the questions to the parastatal’s spokesperson.

“The tender is still undergoing technical evaluation by NamWater management and recommendations will still have to be made to the board for further action,” NamWater’s spokesperson Johannes Shigwedha told The Namibian on Friday.

Asked whether Akwaake has informed the board about possible conflict of interest due to her friendship with the First Lady, Shigwedha said “none of the board members, including madam Akwaake had seen or received the technical evaluation of the tender yet”.

Kaupumhote’s Kata Investments has waded into the NamWater tender together with China State Construction Engineering Corporation, a Chinese state-owned enterprise with expertise in housing, building contracting, property and investment.

According to the Tender Bulletin, other companies that bid for the NamWater tender are Top International Engineering Corporation with a N$560 million bid, and the joint venture of Landmark Project Namibia and Muadifam Enterprises whose bid is N$505 million, even though their tax papers have expired.

WK Construction Namibia submitted a N$614 million bid Technonam Bridges and Roads tendered for N$655 million whereas Quingdao Construction Namibia put in the lowest tender for N$467 million. JJD Earthmoving and Construction, owned by businessman Johny Doeseb, bid N$526 million, while Zhongmei Engineering Group and Luka Properties each bid for around N$520 million.

Another competitor is Shipateko Trading in partnership with Mansudae Overseas Projects, with a N$554 million bid. Mansudae, a North Korean state-owned company, has been scooping a handful of Namibia’s top construction contracts. It built State House, Heroes Acre and the Independence Memorial Museum.

The last bidder was Stature Waterworx Namibia with Shine Africa Products with N$488 million. They did not submit all tender document and certificates.

Sources said Kata and Luka Properties are two of the three shortlisted companies, with sources saying Kata has allegedly been lobbying NamWater to award the contract to them.

Kaupumhote and her business partner, Taschiona !Gawaxab, have become the beloved duo of powerful Chinese State companies who lured them with their financial and machinery muscles in the civil engineering sector.

Taschiona is the daughter of Johannes !Gawaxab, the Old Mutual Africa managing director, a businessman admired by the President.

The president’s daughter and Taschiona are partners with China State Construction Engineering Corporation in most of the tenders she has bid for this year.

Efforts to get comment from the First Lady were not successful while Kaupumhote and Taschiona refused to answer to detailed questions sent to them on Thursday.

Source : The Namibian