Namibia: Geingob denies links to graft dealings

15 Jun 2020

President Hage Geingob says he is not interested in getting involved in corrupt activities which would tarnish his image and legacy.

He says he has no shortage of money and is not corrupt as he was one of the few people who advocated the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act and other laws to fight corruption.

The president was responding to questions during his state of the nation address in the National Assembly last week.

He was asked by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani and other parliamentarians to explain his involvement in the Fishrot scandal that has so far led to the arrest of seven people, including two former ministers, Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala.

The president was asked if the ruling party was considering undertaking an internal investigation to clear it of allegations that it benefited from the Fishrot scandal.

The president, however, refused to answer these questions saying he was advised by his lawyers not to discuss matters that are in court.

“I was advised by my lawyers not to discuss things which are in the court. We all heard the things are in the court, but for Swapo, we will give you the audited reports, and let's wait for the case to be concluded in the court. People were arrested for this and they are in jail. So, let's wait. Things are going to be revealed there,” he said.

Geingob said he had no shortage of money. He said he told Al Jazeera – the foreign television channel which published the Fishrot documentary late last year – that for him money was not a problem.

“They asked me a question and I wrote to them. I gave them a history of who I am. I can put it to you. I told them look, I had all chances, UN [United Nations] jobs paying D2 salaries and I resigned and came back. So, if money was a problem, there were other ways I could have made money,” he said.

The president said he is not interested in dirtying his name at his age, tarnishing his legacy.

“Why should I go and destroy that when I have a few years to go? Why should I be stupid? I am not stupid . . . I started fighting for that Anti-Corruption Act for four years,” Geingob said.

The president has been linked to various controversies over the years, including the payment of about N$24 million meant for the hosting of the All Africa Kora Music Awards in Namibia.

The Namibian has seen court documents revealing how Geingob's long-time friend Ernest Adjovi blackmailed him with his past in 2015 for the president to pull strings to enable the hosting of the failed music awards.

In the Fishrot scandal the president is accused of being part of a group of politicians who benefited from the scheme which enriched a handful of politicians and their cronies at the expense of poor communities.

The Namibian in the past reported Geingob's political campaigns benefited from funds linked to the Fishrot scandal.

An investigation by television news channel Al Jazeera last year revealed that prominent Swapo members allegedly solicited bribes from Icelandic fishing company Samherji.

The statements submitted to Namibian authorities by whistleblower Jóhannes Stefánsson, former managing director of Sahmerji operations in Namibia, indicated the company paid politicians bribes since 2012.

Stefánsson said in an Al Jazeera documentary N$2 million was allegedly paid to former Fishcor board chair James Hatuikulipi for Geingob's political campaign in 2014 to pay his supporters.

Hatuikulipi, who is now behind bars with former ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, allegedly asked Stefánsson for a political donation.

The Namibian has also reported that Swapo's Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu was allegedly paid about N$6 million from Fishcor during Hatuikulipi's tenure.

The president said it was Swapo's “own business” whether they would consider an internal investigation into members' involvement in the Fishrot scandal and to determine whether the party had received donations through corrupt activities.

“As for Swapo's internal investigation, that is our own business. We have already met to review our conduct during this year of introspection. I said we must look into several things, including the results of last year's elections,” Geingob said.

Source : Namibian