By Elvis Muraranganda
HOME Affairs and Immigration financial advisor Likius Valombola says he questioned why a company contracted to upgrade a border security management system is now charging the ministry an extra N$9 million, on top of the original N$70 million price tag.
Valombola was commenting this week on the tender awarded to ICT firm, Syntex Information Technologies (Pty).
In 2008, the company, which was approached by the ministry to set up the security system, charged N$70 million, but when it was asked to upgrade the system in 2015, it charged N$9 million more, citing inflation and currency fluctuations.
The upgrades include e-gate, e-passport, biometric fingerprint reading devices, facial recognition software and other modern-day security features.
Syntex is owned by Phillip Hikumwah and Linus Amulungu.
It has been estimated by industry experts that the actual cost of the project is about N$30 million.
The ministry has maintained that it did not advertise the work, because it involves security features.
Valombola stressed this week that his hands are clean.
“All I can talk about is the [over] N$9 million extra, which the company asked for the upgrades. As for the N$70 million, I do not want to talk about that, because it was signed before I joined the ministry,” Valombola informed Confidente.
He joined the ministry in 2010 as a deputy director responsible for administration, after a 25-year teaching career stretching from the time of the armed liberation struggle. He has also been doubling as the ministry’s financial advisor.
“I never failed in my duties to advise the ministry on the prudent management of resources in this specific matter or any other matter brought before me,” he said.
As financial advisor, Valombola oversees that the money allocated to the ministry is used for the correct expenditure.
He serves on the ministry’s procurement committee and ensures that payments and transactions are done properly, among other duties.
“It is a powerful position and it is also time-consuming. It is a non-remunerative post. I am volunteering, as it is. I have to reconcile that position with my current portfolio as Commissioner of Refugees.”
According to Valombola, it was after Syntex had written to the ministry about their new price that Home Affairs and Immigration Permanent Secretary, Patrick Nandago, approached him for his input.
“When I saw that amount, I said ‘no, no’. I asked my colleague at IT and we engaged Hikumwah and asked him to provide us with evidence.
“I also advised that the ministry cannot sign any contract based on a letter and that is why the company drew up an addendum.”
During an earlier interview Hikumwah told Confidente, that the company had to increase its prices after the ministry failed to pay them on time, following the initial first nine months of the upgrades.
The ministry later requested them to extend the project for another 18 months, until September 2017, and it is at this time that Valombola got involved.
Valombola maintained this week that he has been doing a great job, despite claims by his detractors that he is not qualified.
He also gave a brief history of his life, which includes being exposed to the brutal apartheid era, going into exile at the age of 11 and subsequently holding his first gun at the same age.
He received his teacher training in Cuba.
Valombola stressed that he was also posted to a Swapo school in Zambia, trained the gymnastic performers at Namibia’s first independence celebrations in 1990, before being posted to the Ruacana High School as a teacher in 1991.
He retired as the principal of the school in 2010.
“I am a proud teacher by profession; a trained soldier, and indeed an educator. I have educated a lot of people, who are now medical doctors.
“I was part of the Swapo Party Youth League leadership for many years. I was in charge of a school for years. All this involved a lot of planning in all sectors.”
He added that in 2014, he led the ministry’s turnaround strategy which has been hailed by the public.
“I know what is happening in this ministry. It is just jealousy, because there are people who want the ministry to fail. I have been pushing for a lot of changes, but some people do not want this.
“It is just about overtime claims and S&Ts, which I question and have been reducing. People take this personally.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015