Namibia: Noa Uncertain Over Future At ACC

19 November 2019

ANTI-CORRUPTION director general Paulus Noa is undecided over whether he will be available to lead the institution for another five years when his term ends in November next year.

"I do not know," Noa - who has led the ACC for 15 years, starting in 2004 - told The Namibian on Sunday.

He could be in charge of the ACC up to 2025 if the president appoints him for another five-year term.

Noa has faced in-house resistance from officials who accuse him of blocking investigations. In some cases, they wait for him to travel abroad to push certain investigations which they fear he might block.

Last week, the public lost its patience, taking to the streets of the capital to demonstrate over the Fishrot scandal implicating disgraced former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, ex-justice minister Sacky Shanghala and businessman James Hatuikulipi, amongst others.

Addressing Noa outside the ACC headquarters in Windhoek, the demonstrators demanded that he ensures that the culprits are arrested, and that their bank accounts are frozen.

They warned that they would return for more protests if he failed to implement their demands.

Noa eventually froze some bank accounts - those of Shanghala and Esau's son-in-law Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi. It is unclear how much money is involved in the targeted accounts, or why he chose the accounts of those two only.

The ACC chief has previously faced accusations that he was protecting Shanghala's clique.

This includes the Kora music awards' lost N$23 million; N$34 million dished out to United Kingdom genocide lawyers; and the fishing scandal that implicated Shanghala last week.

Asked whether he was protecting Shanghala, Noa reacted with a "no way".

"I have a responsibility to investigate allegations of corruption, and cannot protect any person. Investigations are done within the law," he said.

"Suspects shall be brought before court very soon. No need for delaying the matter," he added.

The ACC boss is accused of fiddling while Rome burns when it came to the fishing quota schemes masterminded by Esau, Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi.

Part of their scheme was to control the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).

In June 2014, The Namibian reported on concerns over Esau appointing James Hatuikulipi to the Fishcor board that year. Noa was also alerted about illegal fishing quotas dished out to Fishcor by Esau.

Still, the ACC turned a blind eye.

It took private companies - Namsov and Atlantic Harvesters - to drag Esau to court over that illegal quota allocation.

The High Court ruled in December 2014 that the allocation of horse mackerel quotas to Fishcor was unlawful and irregular.

Esau later punished Namsov by withholding fishing quotas, which led to the closure of BidVest Fishing.

Publicly, Shanghala was the man at the forefront of the onslaught on Namsov, to the extent that he demanded that the Namibian fishing company - which employed hundreds of Namibians - should apologise to him and Esau for questioning the quota allocation.

As attorney general, Shanghala went to the National Assembly to change the law to give Esau more powers to dish out fishing quotas to Fishcor, which is headed by Hatuikulipi.

This was the first sign that Esau, Shanghala and Hatuikulipi were up to something.

But to Noa, there was no evidence.

"That was an administrative power he exercised. The law was eventually changed giving him powers to allocate quotas," he said when asked over the weekend why he did not go after Esau after he was found guilty of contraventions by the court.

Noa admitted that they have been investigating this fishing scandal since 2014.

"We carried out investigations at that time, and nobody came forward during our previous investigations to provide relevant information".

"Some of the people who are revealing the information today were also part of the same companies; perhaps that was the reason why they did not blow the whistle. We could have appropriately investigated the case. I am happy that they seem ready to reveal the information now," the ACC chief said.

Noa has in the past also faced allegations of delaying investigations.

"We have never been slow," he contended. "We must verify the information given to us. Statements have to be taken from our potential witnesses from outside the country," he added.

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