24 June 2019

Namibia: Shimwino Denies Link to N$300m Diamond Tender

BUSINESSMAN David Shimwino has strongly denied links to a company that won a N$300 million contract to valuate Namdeb diamonds over the next five years

The Namibian reported last month that information from the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) showed that Shimwino was a director of Gem Diamonds Namibia - a company which was allegedly favoured by a clique of officials to win a state contract that is described by experts as "free money".

Shimwino denied any links to the company in that story, but he feels he needs to make it clearer.

"I have no relationship with the company, and I have no knowledge about the tender. Therefore, for my name to appear in the newspaper, it can be only regarded as either character assassination or blackmail," he told The Namibian last week.

"I, therefore, demand, if there is such a tender, to be declared null and void, and sent back to the tender board for proper adjudication," he stated.

It's unclear how Shimwino's name ended up in the company's registration documents as director.

The state introduced the government evaluation contract to make sure that it is not underpaid for the sale of its diamonds.

The Central Procurement Board (CPB) had awarded a N$300 million contract to Gem Diamonds Namibia to evaluate Namdeb diamonds over the next five years, ahead of Global Diamond Valuators Namibia, the current service providers, who had asked for N$230 million for the same job.

Gem Diamonds is allegedly linked to a known wheeler-dealer minister and a clique of connected business people, who are allegedly hiding behind proxies.

Two sources alleged that the CPB technical committee "cooked" the scores to suit Gem Diamonds Namibia, which scored 100% on all categories.

Mines minister Tom Alweendo told The Namibian last month that he hopes the CPB has good reasons for picking a company which wants to charge the government around N$70 million more than the current diamond valuators.

"As the minister responsible for the valuation of our diamonds, I am seriously concerned about alleged irregularities with regards to the evaluation of the diamond valuation tender," he said.

He added that "for me, it will be unfortunate and abhorrent if it were to be the case that the tender evaluation process was tainted by irregularities, and we will be made to work with a service provider with a tarnished credibility".

There are concerns that this tender was turned into a money-making scheme for a clique of well-placed individuals, especially since the law does not make provision for the government to issue this tender.

- shinovene@namibian.com.na

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