I have refrained from responding to baseless and vitriolic attacks on my person from some Agribank clients in recent months. These falsified attacks have largely been published on the SMS pages in The Namibian, as well as on social media platforms. Their intent is to try and scandalise me and hopefully, thereby, gain public sympathy for these clients’ refusal to make arrangements to repay their long-outstanding loans with Agribank. It is clear that my cardinal sin is being steadfast in the implementation of the bank’s strategy.
Following further malicious SMSes, published in The Namibian of 2 May, I am compelled to respond and provide the following facts:
(a)The one SMS alleges that my wife works with a co-owner of Redforce. This is truly laughable and would make for interesting comedy, if it were not so malicious. As far as I know, my wife does not work and has not done so in the past two-and-a-half years. In a desperate attempt to scandalise me, the author of the SMS forgot to check his or her facts. My wife also does not even know Redforce and has no relation to, or friendship with, anyone involved in Redforce. Nor do I. With such powerful ‘insights’, why wouldn’t the author directly approach the ACC with their ‘facts’ instead of anonymously writing an SMS in a newspaper? The intent is clear – to try and draw public sympathy for an unjustified cause – namely the refusal to make arrangements to repay overdue loans. I don’t mind if this SMS author simply refuses to make repayment arrangements for their loans, for whatever reasons they might have, but I take exception if they create falsehoods to paint a false picture about me or my wife. I challenge this person to immediately submit all their facts to the ACC. Why sit with such information and not hand it over to the relevant authorities? Why would there be insinuations of corruption when all I am doing is implement board decisions in fulfilment of our mandate as a bank?
(b)Redforce, together with UAG, were appointed by Agribank following a thorough and transparent tender process. Firstly, a public invitation was published in the local print media. Secondly, responses to these invitations were opened by a duly appointed Agribank tender committee. The CEO does not sit on this committee. Thirdly, a shortlist was drawn up by the tender committee, together with the functional department, based on qualifying criteria. Fourthly, the shortlisted tenderers were invited to present their proposals to an evaluation panel, made up of members of the tender committee and the executive committee. The final shortlist of service providers recommended by this evaluation panel was submitted to the relevant board committee for further discussion and recommendation to the full board. On recommendation of the appropriate board committee, the board approved the appointment of the shortlisted service providers and mandated management to negotiate the final terms of the contracts with the successful service providers, within guided parameters. Again, this further step was done transparently with the participation of the executive committee, which I lead. As a result of this process, Redforce and UAG were appointed as the successful service providers for debt collection.
(c)The collections strategy, as stated on various occasions, is an Agribank board-approved strategy and is firmly rooted in the bank’s five-year strategic plan. There is, thus, nothing personal about it, as those continuously writing SMSes and circulating malicious statements on social media platforms, would have us believe. They have even gone as far as spreading these falsehoods on NBC’s Otjiherero radio station. These people circulate these falsehoods, in an effort to create doubt in the minds of the public and policymakers. I guess the only way to scandalise a person is to allege corruption, personal benefit and conflict of interest, even where no such things exist. They think that by scandalising the CEO, he will be summarily removed from his position, and the collections initiative will be stopped. I want to state categorically that up to the time that Redforce came to present their proposal, after they were shortlisted, I have never heard about them or had any engagements with them. This must be so, I suppose, because I have not had to engage a debt collector in the past 10 or so years.
I have repeatedly stated, and would like to do so again, that Agribank remains ready to listen to any client, who wants to discuss their personal repayment plan, either directly or through the appointed debt collectors. As CEO, I have never turned away any client, who came to discuss their accounts with me. Nor will I ever do so. And many clients have come in to discuss their repayment plans in recent months, including those who have been handed over to debt collectors or law firms. And these clients speak all languages of Namibia. In their quest to paint a false picture, once again, those refusing to make arrangements to repay the arrears on their loan accounts have posted falsehoods on social media platforms that I allegedly only meet Oshiwambo-speaking clients! This is not only false, malicious and mischievous, but it is also such a great pity that people stoop so low, as to even be tribalistic in their approach to a straightforward policy matter within the bank!
Finally, people who are corrupt-minded tend to think that everyone else is corrupt. This is not true. Similarly, people who are tribalistic in their tendencies, also seem to think everyone else is tribalistic. This is also not true. I repeat my challenge – please go today to the Anti-Corruption Commission, present all the facts to them about the appointment of Redforce and stop creating malicious stories. In the end, the public will see through all these malicious attempts.
*This letter was authored by Sakaria Nghikembua, Chief Executive Officer of Agribank
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015