… Says ACC, Simataa must leave him alone
By Elvis Muraranganda
TENDER magnate Vaino Nghipondoka has voiced his defiance, even as an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) probe into the construction of the national oil storage facility at Walvis Bay has broadened to include a host of senior government officials, who will be questioned about how the cost of the project has ballooned from N$920 million to N$5.2 billion.
The ACC was initially probing irregularities around the tender process, but confirmed to Confidente that they were now looking at interviewing members of a Cabinet technical committee, as well as Ministry of Mines and Energy officials, who had allegedly “manipulated documents”.
Nghipondoka said this week that neither Cabinet Secretary, George Simataa, nor ACC Director, Paulus Noa, had so far engaged him around the oil storage facility.
“Why must they investigate me? I do not work for government. Why would they talk to me?” the owner of Babyface Civils said.
“They must stop with those rumours and they must leave a guy to make his money,” Nghipondoka said.
Noa told Confidente that the expanded probe was necessitated by fresh allegations and information, which emerged recently.
Initially, the ACC was investigating the alleged irregularities around the 2013 tendering process.
However, the anti-graft body is now spreading its wings, to include investigations on how the contract ballooned by N$5.1 billion, after it was awarded to a China Harbour Construction Engineering, Babyface Civils and Roads Contractor Company joint venture.
“The other element is an investigation into some official/s at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, manipulating documents regarding this matter,” explained Noa.
“During this process, we need to speak to members of the Cabinet technical committee, the ministerial committee and members of the (former) Tender Board,” he said.
The members of the Cabinet technical committee at the time of the tender award included the then works permanent secretary, Peter Mwatile, finance permanent secretary Erica Shafudah, then mines permanent secretary, Kahijoro Kahuure, as well as officials from the Office of the Attorney-General and the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The committee was headed by NPC permanent secretary, Leevi Hungamo.
“We need to investigate the role that all these committees played in the entire process and why conditions set out in the tender regulations were not adhered to.
“We need to hear from these different people about what had led to the ballooning of the price. However, we have not started questioning anybody, at this stage,” Noa said.
Last year, Attorney-General, Sacky Shanghala, pleaded with Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa, to charge and suspend Hungamo.
According to Shanghala, some of the charges Hungamo should face include those of ignoring the tender specifications, before approving the awarding of contract to Nghipondoka, failing to engage the ministerial committee and withholding the knowledge that the tender exposed the government to US dollar/ Namibian dollar foreign exchange fluctuations.
Shanghala further called on Noa to investigate Nghipondoka and his company, over their role in the tender.
Responding to Confidente, Simataa stressed that he has not completed his investigations, despite being asked by Shanghala to do so nearly 10 months ago.
“I am still doing what I have been asked to, and I have not completed my work. If anyone says that there are charges compiled, then it was not by me,” Simataa added.
Despite the claims by Noa and Simataa that no charges have been formalised yet, unsigned documents have emerged in which Hungamo is charged with misconduct.
In the documents, in possession of Confidente, he is allegedly charged with insubordination and negligence or indolence in performing his duties.
“If you deny the charge, [Simataa] in consultation with the Prime Minister [Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila] shall, within seven days from the date of receipt of the written denial, establish a disciplinary committee (DC),” the charge sheet reads.
“[The DC will] consist of three suitable persons, who may or may not be staff members, to inquire into the charge of misconduct and [Simataa] shall designate one of the persons so appointed to be the chairperson of the committee.”
Shanghala’s mobile went answered.
Hungamo also told Confidente that he too has not been approached by either Noa or Simataa.
“Nobody would be comfortable with any delay in such matters, but I do not speak on behalf of government. I am not authorised to do so,” explained Hungamo.
“It is unfortunate that the wrong information is being sent out there. I wish one day government can come out with the truth,” he said.
Hungamo added that the information that is in the public domain about the project, price, size and scope is false.
“To a large extent, it is not the correct information out there. Government really needs to come out, and put out the correct picture.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015