By Confidente Reporter
A former advisor to the then Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Professor Peter Katjavivi, Dr Asoka Seneviratne is embroiled in a bitter feud with Katjavivi and the Minister of Economic Planning and Director of NPC, Tom Alweendo over N$540 600 he claims he is owed by Government in repatriation fees.
The matter has since dragged the Office of the President, Attorney General’s Office as well as the High Court into it. Seneviratne, who says he was entitled to the funds at the end of his contract in 2009, lost his case at the High Court last year.
In documents availed to Confidente newspaper by Seneviratne shortly before he left the country on November 25 2016 for his native New Zealand, he questions the ‘accountability and transparency’ of Government and the NPC after the two entities through Katjavivi and Alweendo reportedly refused to pay him his repatriation fees as stipulated by the law when a foreign national is employed in the country and has to return to his country.
Seneviratne in 2014 also dragged the NPC and President to the High Court in a bid to have Government compelled to pay him. “I joined the Office of the President, National Planning Commission in July 2006 as a senior policy advisor. This was through UNDP and it was a Cabinet approved position. After two years, I was appointed by former HE President H. Pohamba as Special Advisor to DG of the NPC with effect from October 9 2008. This was as a result of the request of Professor Peter Katjavivi who became Director General of the NPC in March 2008. He requested me to stay and work for him after my UNDP job.
“As a result, I failed to go back to New Zealand where I was recruited for the UNDP job-Senior Policy Advisor to the NPC.I am a Permanent Resident in New Zealand and I was recruited to NPC from New Zealand. Indeed, I did not ask for any job from GRN after Senior Policy Advisor job because I wanted to return to my job with UNDP in Ethiopia. I was a consultant (UNDP) attached to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Ethiopia. It was a pensionable job and I joined the NPC on two-year leave from UNDP Ethiopia. However, as I agreed with the request of Professor Katjavivi, I failed to return to Ethiopia. As a result I lost UNDP pensionable job (I had worked 3.5 years and I had to work another 1.5 years in Ethiopia to qualify for UNDP pension.) Pension maybe around US$3000 per month,” Seneviratne claims. Seneviratne claims that Katjavivi had promised him in a memo dated June 10 2009 that in his contract his place of recruitment would be recorded as New Zealand. In support of his claims, Seneviratne unveiled the memo addressed to the Permanent Secretary of NPC under the headline Remuneration of Special Advisor to the Director General and Employment Contract. According to that memo Seneviratne would be paid US$99 511 annually or US$8293 monthly. Under the sub-title ‘Place of Recruitment’ the memo says: “Dr Seneviratne’s place of recruitment should be New Zealand. The reason for this effect is that at the end of his contract in July 2008, Dr Seneviratne was virtually repatriated to New Zealand. However, I requested him to stay back and work for me because by that time Dr Seneviratne was assisting in many ways in my office. It should be noted that the former DG left office together with most of his staff except Dr Seneviratne. Therefore, place of recruitment should be New Zealand.” Seneviratne blames Katjavivi and current Director General of the NPC Tom Alweendo for his predicament.
“I did not contribute to the current problem at all. As my matter has taken more than five years, NPC/GRN is not committed to resolve the problem which is not a good governance practice at all. Indeed, Honourable Alweendo does not want to pay for the costs of repatriation. I lost my pension of US$3000 per month due to Professor Katjavivi. Now I lost the payment of repatriation due to Professor Katjavivi and Honourable Alweendo particularly due to Honourable Alweendo,” he says.
According a judgement delivered by Judge Collins Parker on February 5 2015 where the President of Namibia and the Director General of the NPC are listed as first and second respondents respectively the judge found that Seneviratne had been recruited while he was in Namibia not New Zealand. “Court found that applicant was ordinarily resident in Namibia when he was recruited for the post-Applicant had only left Namibia temporarily on sick leave and vacation leave in New Zealand,” Judge Parker said. In an emailed response this week, Katjavivi absolved himself from any wrong doing. “To the best of my knowledge, the Government of Namibia has met all the repatriation agreements on Dr. Asoka Seneviratne contract. As per his contract he was paid his repatriation by the UN. The reference to me having reneged on his repatriation is unfounded. The factual situation is that when I left the NPC he was still working there. And I cannot be held responsible for anything that happened after my departure.” Efforts to get comment from Alweendo proved futile as his mobile went unanswered and a text message send to him was never responded to.
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