The Namibian (Windhoek)

21 December 2012

Namibia: Scanners Worth N$300 Million Standing in the Rain

HUNDREDS of millions of dollars' worth of industrial X-ray equipment, acquired under the controversial 'Teko Trio' deal with China's Nuctech company, has been sitting exposed to adverse weather outside a warehouse in Windhoek for about two months now.

The equipment, which is to be installed at all Namibia's border points, has been stored for at least two months in the open next to a major new warehouse under construction for the past few months.

While still in crates, the equipment - clearly labeled as industrial X-Ray scanning machines from Nuctech in China to the Ministry of Finance and estimated to be worth at least N$300 million - has been exposed to heat, rain and dust.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Ericah Shafuda, said she had not been informed of the equipment being stored outdoors, adding that if it was the case and the equipment malfunctioned as a result, the director responsible would have to answer.

Chances are that the equipment may fail upon installation and Nuctech could claim that this was due to Namibia's own negligence in storing the sensitive electronic equipment, contained in about a dozen large wooden crates.

In terms of the original deal, Swapo-owned Namibia Contract Haulage was to be the designated partner in the highly controversial deal to sell and install the scanning equipment at all Namibia's border points. This deal was then later replaced by the "consultancy agreement" between Teko Trading and Nuctech.

Queries made with the owners of the complex drew a blank, with ContainerWorld's owner Norbert Liebig saying only that there appeared to be "some sort of agreement to store the crates" at the premises belonging to African Marketing but shared by several other companies.

The seeming neglect of the equipment raised serious questions over the validity of Nuctech's controversial marketing agreement with Teko, who appeared to have abandoned their obligations in the wake of the arrest of the company's principals Tekla Lameck and Jerobeam 'Kongo' Mokoxwa, as well as Nuctech's Africa manager, Yang Fan.

The "agency agreement" between Nuctech and Teko specified that Teko was to oversee the rapid deployment of the equipment to maximise revenue collection by the Ministry of Finance, according to documents seized by the Anti-Corruption Commission and submitted in court.

Teko's responsibility was to include the "deployment of the scanning equipment at designated entry/exit points to enforce with the Customs and Excise Act of Namibia and maximise customs revenue from trade tariff and taxes. Positive and continuously pursuit of full deployment of the equipments in all Namibia exit/entry ports..[...]," according to Annex 1 of their agreement.

Bevan Simataa, the director of Customs and Excise in the Ministry of Finance, however said yesterday that the installation of the scanners was "never outsourced" and that they have been doing it themselves.

Shafudah said that the only outstanding points of entry where the equipment are still to be installed are Eros Airport in Windhoek, Ariamsvlei and Walvis Bay.

Teko's legal team averred in court during the trio's first appearances under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) that the hefty N$120 million commission was entirely legitimate. They also claimed that Teko's role was to oversee installation and deal with technical queries, among other things.

An advocate previously involved in the matter said that the constitutional challenge raised by the so-called 'Teko Trio' in the Supreme Court implied that the matter remained sub judice until such time as the country's highest court had made a ruling in this regard. The criminal trial on charges of corruption is to resume in April next year.

Local law enforcement officials this week expressed their doubts over the political will to fully prosecute the case, especially after it emerged that Yang Fan's laptop - seized under POCA as part of the evidence - contained correspondence to payoffs he allegedly had to make to a senior Namibian Cabinet member and a retired politician.

Yang's lawyer Namandje also did not respond to queries whether Yang intended to apply for political asylum in Namibia because of fears that he could be executed if he were to return to China. A well-placed source however confirmed that this was indeed the case.

Under Namibia's Extradition Act, no one can be extradited to a country where such person could face a death sentence for his alleged crime. In China, people convicted of corruption often face the firing squad.

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