29 June 2012

Namibia: Conradie's MTC Chairmanship Decided Today

JOËL Kaapanda, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, yesterday said he would announce a decision on the position of MTC board chairperson Dirk Conradie today.

The minister said he consulted various people yesterday.

"I've been consulting. We'll be able to have a clear direction tomorrow."

Conradie (53) is facing a charge of corruption in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.

Kaapanda and Namibia Post and Telecommunication Holdings (NPTH) are responsible for appointing the MTC board, the mobile operator's spokesperson, Tim Ekandjo, said this week.

Henri Kassen, the NPTH board chairperson, yesterday said they would not like to preempt an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation. "You're only guilty once proven so in a court of law."

Asked whether Conradie would be able to continue serving as chairperson while he is not allowed to have contact with MTC managing director Miguel Geraldis and MTC board member Asser Ntinda, Kassen said: "The general rules governing a conflict of interest is that you declare your conflict and excuse yourself."

Kassen said the matter "will be raised" at an NPTH board meeting in July.

Conradie yesterday said that at this stage, he does not want to respond about whether or not he will recuse himself from the MTC board.

A storm exploded around the lawyer's head on Tuesday when the ACC arrested him and his former business partner's ex-wife, Sarah Damases (48).

Conradie is the director of the law firm Conradie & Damaseb Attorneys.

He and Damases allegedly on June 12 asked Mark Bongers and Kim Field of advertising agency DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi to employ Damases as a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner.

According to the ACC, should DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi have employed Damases, Conradie gave an undertaking that he would have used his influence to have an MTC advertising tender of N$60 million awarded to the advertising company.

Conradie has been the chairperson of the MTC board of directors since October 2010.

In a statement, Ekandjo yesterday said their tender and procurement processes are "robust, transparent and dealt with according to company policy and procedures pertaining to tenders/ procurement".

According to him, MTC has an independent tender board aimed at ensuring that rules and regulations are complied with.

Ekandjo confirmed that the advertising tender had not been awarded to anyone yet, but said the tender was not worth N$60 million.

"It is difficult to upfront state or quantify a value because this is determined by various factors in the market that will inform whether we will advertise more or less, as circumstances always change throughout the year and in fact every day."

The MTC spokesperson said that Conradie is not a member of the MTC tender board.

Ekandjo emphasised that MTC or its board did not initiate the allegations against the lawyer and that the claims do not relate to MTC's tender processes.

"We therefore wish to assure our customers that we shall continue to uphold the highest standard of integrity and business ethics that have always guided our company over the years and made it one of the leading companies in Namibia."

Conradie on Tuesday said that he made it clear to MTC's tender board and the board of directors when he joined that he "will make deliberate attempts to empower my people".

According to him, he told Damases to approach the advertising company - " a white-owned company" - and "make arrangements for a joint venture so that you can be empowered".

He also admitted that he asked the company "to help her and I will help with the tender".

But, Conradie said, "they are so stingy; instead of helping this lady, they went and made the [ACC] case".

Conradie and Damases made a brief appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Tuesday,

Both accused were released on bail of N$30 000 each.

Magistrate Vanessa Stanley postponed the case until July 27 for further investigation.

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