25 June 2018

Namibia: Broke Govt in N$117 Million Angola Land Deal

THE financially strained government wants to buy a N$117 million property in Angola from businessman Titus Nakuumba without the finance ministry's blessings.

Available documents show that the government, through the trade ministry and the soon-to-be-disbanded Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) have been in talks with Nakuumba's company, Afrikuumba, to buy the property in Luanda.

According to the documents, the property in the Polo Industrial area of Viana consists of a plot measuring 14 000 square metres and mini buildings on 20 000 square metres.

The N$117 million deal includes N$52 million for insurance cover.

The government said it wants to create a business park consisting of offices, workshops, housing units and warehouses.

Trade minister Tjekero Tweya, the documents dated March 2018, further show, was part of the government's negotiating team together with his permanent secretary Gabriel Sinimbo and the deputy director for regional economic development in the ministry, Julia Mungunda.

In a letter dated 8 March 2018 to Sinimbo and copied to Tweya and others, Afrikuumba business developer, Uazuva Kaumbi refers to a meeting held at the trade ministry where the permanent secretary requested for a valuation report and draft agreement of sale for the property.

Kaumbi previously worked as the property manager at the National Housing Enterprise before he moved to Afrikuumba, the same company that was awarded a mass housing contract when he was at the parastatal.

The copy of the Luanda land draft agreement of sale shows that the government would pay 10% of US$1 million within 14 days of the signing of the deal, with another US$1,5 million (about N$20 million) paid before transferring the property into the government's name.

A further US$7, 5 million, the draft agreement of sale says, should be paid over four years with an interest of 6% per year and at intervals convenient to the buyer.

A Walvis Bay-based company, Nasikama Property Valuation owned by Chet van Wyk, prepared the valuation report, while unnamed Angolan-based lawyers would work on the draft agreement of sale.

It was not immediately clear whether government valuators were involved in the process.

The documents also suggest that lawyer Tobie Louw from the Theunissen, Louw & Partners law firm should manage the payment, the property transfer process and any other legal services.

Sinimbo, in one of his communications copied to Tweya, deputy minister Lucia Ipumbu, deputy permanent secretary Annascy Mwanyangapo and the ministry's financial adviser Munu Kuyonisa, ordered the NDC to "finalise all due processes, conclude the purchase and advice the ministry accordingly before 28 March 2018".

Tweya yesterday said they were still negotiating the purchase of the property in Angola.

"That's all I can tell you," he said.

Tweya could not, however, say why his ministry was negotiating the property purchase deal without going through the Central Procurement Board and the finance ministry.

In a telephonic interview last week, Sinimbo said there was nothing secretive about the deal as the ministry held a meeting on the issue at a Windhoek hotel about three weeks ago.

"We discussed this issue. Email me questions then I will respond further," Sinimbo said.

Although Sinimbo did not respond to questions sent to him afterwards, the meeting he referred to was held on 7 June 2018.

An invitation titled Public Notice to the Namibian Business Community from the industrialisation ministry said the meeting was in line with the mandate of promoting the development of the private sector.

The notice also said that the government acquired industrial land in Talatona Industrial Zone and was in the process of buying additional industrial land in Viana Industrial Zone for the development and setting up of a Namibia Trade House in Luanda, Angola.

This house, the notice said, would facilitate the distribution of Namibian products and services and encourage Namibian companies to establish a foothold in the Angolan market.

Since 2003, the government owns a piece of land that is lying idle in Luanda do Sul that was bought for US$170 000 (N$1,14 million at the time).

In 2011, the then trade ministry deputy permanent secretary, Nghidinua Daniel, said the government planned to build warehouses, offices and houses.


Finance minister Calle Schlettwein yesterday said although the government, through the NDC, owns other plots in Angola, nothing was being done regarding business because there is no money.

Referring to the Talatona business hub for which deal he signed in 2014, Schlettwein said there is no money to develop the land.

"It is still there. We own it headed by NDC but we never built on it, and it is currently not being used for anything. There is no money," he said yesterday.

When he spoke to The Namibian last week, Schlettwein had said the trade ministry had not sought any clearance from Treasury and the Central Procurement Board.

Schlettwein also said that the office of the trade ministry should have sought approval from the attorney general, the Treasury and the procurement board.

After The Namibian had spoken to Schlettwein last week, Treasury also approached the trade ministry for clarification.

Referring to the interaction between Treasury and the trade ministry, Schlettwein yesterday said looking at the new deal, the figures are incredibly high.

"Treasury has looked at it. We sent various queries to trade on their move, and we have not approved it. The Central Procurement Board has now also been approached to exempt it, and there is no exemption given to this effect," Schlettwein said.

Schlettwein expressed concern, especially with the price and the N$52 million insurance cover.

"The insurance of N$52 million dollars, this is crazy. What are we ensuring and for how long?" Schlettwein asked.

Central Procurement Board chairperson Patrick Swartz last week said the board was not consulted and no tender was issued for the purchase of the building for the trade ministry.

Nakuumba confirmed that the government was planning to buy some of his properties in Angola because he was shutting down.

"The government is interested in these properties. Is there something wrong with that?" Nakuumba asked.

Nakuumba, however, said the N$52 million on insurance was for covering damages which could be caused by fire.

"We are still talking with them," Nakuumba said.

Nakuumba is known for entering into controversial deals with the state, including the city of Windhoek, TransNamib and NHE.


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