Fishrot questions dominate parly

Questions relating to the 'Fishrot' saga which has landed former lawmakers and briefcase businessmen behind bars dominated the debate in the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday.

First to take on Acting Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Albert Kawana was Rally for Democracy and Progress leader, Mike Kavekotora who questioned how N.dollars 17.5 million was transferred from the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) into law firm Sisa Namandje Inc's trust account.

The Namibian reported last week that around N.dollars 7 million of the N.dollars 17.5 million transferred from Fishcor into the law firm Sisa Namandje Inc's trust account ended up being paid to businessman Vaino Nghipondoka.

These are all public funds gone to waste, Kavekotora lamented, saying Fischor's board directors who sanctioned these payments must be held liable and accountable.

The payments were made in 2015 and 2017.

Was the board aware of all the N.dollars 17.5 million paid from Fishcor into Sisa Namandje trust account and if yes, what was the payment for? he asked.

Fishcor's directors at the time were Mike Nghipunya [the corporation's suspended chief executive officer], James Hatuikuilipi, Benneth Kangumu, Ndaendomwenyo Sheya, Ohangwena Governor Usko Nghaamwa, Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku and fisheries executive director, Moses Maurihungirire.

What competencies made each one of them uniquely qualified to be appointed as Fishcor board members? Kavekotora put to Kawana.

He added: What role did the board play in all these fraudulent transactions that took place during their term in office?

Joining him was Popular Democratic Movement politician, Nico Smit who wanted to know how far Kawana's investigation into the fishing sector was.

Last year, upon assuming the acting role in the fisheries ministry, President Hage Geingob directed Kawana to investigate the alleged corruption and nepotism in the fishing sector.

Smit was skeptical about Kawana.

How can a colleague of the disgraced [former] minister [Bernard Esau (Fisheries) and Sacky Shanghala (Justice)] and a member of Cabinet be tasked with investigating this matter? Can you believe that? Since more and more information has seen the light regarding this scandalous theft from the Namibian people, yet nothing has been heard about Dr. Kawana's investigation, he lamented.

Last year, Shanghala and Esau were forced to relinquish their Cabinet positions amid allegations of corruption and money-laundering in the Namibian fishing industry.

Esau and Shanghala stand accused of receiving bribes in return for giving preferential access to Namibia's rich fishing grounds to Samherji.

It is alleged that the politicians and their cronies pocketed at least N.dollars 150 million in kickbacks in the process over four years.

The former ministers remain behind bars awaiting trial.

Source: Namibia Press Agency