Namibia: Shanghala, Esau Removed From Parliament List

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has said the ruling Swapo party has removed from the party parliamentary list two former ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhard Esau who are implicated in the scandalous fishing scheme, from which millions of dollars were allegedly paid to people at the expense of poor communities.

The two resigned from their Cabinet positions last month on the day they were exposed for alleged corruption and receiving kickbacks.

Geingob made these remarks in a statement issued yesterday following his re-election as Namibia's president for the next five years. Geingob was declared duly elected after receiving 464 703 or 56% of the total 826 198 votes in the presidential election on Wednesday.

He said he was aware of the anger expressed by many Namibians on the ongoing allegations of corruption in the fishing industry.

He said the decision to withdraw the two from the parliament list was taken at a recent Swapo politburo meeting.

"The Swapo Party politburo discussed the fate of the two members of parliament implicated, and a decision was taken to withdraw them from the National Assembly and to remove them from the party list," he said.

The former ministers are being accused of benefiting from several fishing quota allocations, including one donated to the Angolan government, from which N$150 million in kickbacks was paid to several people.

Other people involved in the scandal are Investec managing director James Hatuikulipi, his cousin and Esau's son in-law, Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, and businessman Richardo Gustavo.

The Namibian reported that this scandal could involve transactions worth as much as N$2,5 billion.

The ruling party won 63 seats in the National Assembly after scoring 65,5% of the total votes cast in elections last week.

Shanghala and Esau are well within the 63 seats bracket on the party's list of new parliamentarians. Esau is at number 33, while Shanghala occupies number 53.

Esau is also a member of the party's politburo as well as the central committee - the organisation's highest decision-making body between congresses.

Shanghala is also a member of the Swapo central committee.

The president, however, did not state whether the two former ministers were also removed from the party's structures such as the central committee and the politburo.

It is not known whether the two are still receiving parliamentary salaries until the new parliament sits in March next year.

An MP earns close to N$700 000 a year, which translates to at least N$60 000 a month.

Apart from Esau and Shanghala, the ruling party has other members who were convicted of corruption on its list.

These are former Namibia Wildlife Resorts managing director Tobie Aupindi at number 29, and former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa at 82.

Although Hanse-Himarwa is outside the 63 bracket, there is still the possibility that she can be brought back to parliament by Geingob among the eight members the president is obliged to appoint.

Geingob said in the case of Aupindi and Hanse-Himarwa: "According to Article 47 of the Namibian Constitution, an individual is disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly if they are sentenced to imprisonment without an option of a fine".

Geingob, however, said the challenges that face Namibia require concerted efforts from all Namibians.

For the next five years, Geingob said the government will focus on efforts to economically empower and socially uplift our young people.

"This will be one of the cornerstones of our programme for governance over the next five years," Geingob said. He added that the government will also continue to promote effective governance "and execute our mandate on the basis of accountability, transparency, honesty and commitment".

He added that his administration will also intensify the fight against corruption at all levels, "so that we can arrest this evil".

The president-elect also thanked all the contestants in the presidential elections saying that the just concluded elections show that Namibia's democracy was stronger than ever.

"We have all run a tough campaign. One of the toughest in the young history of our republic. I wish you and your spouses all the best in your future endeavours. Let us now hold hands so that we can turn our focus towards bringing about economic growth in Namibia," he said.

He added that the elections have also opened a new chapter on the Namibian political landscape, "and the message is clear".

He said from now on he will be more determined than ever "to lead our people towards prosperity, bringing about equitable distribution of wealth and enhancing economic progress and I will continue to be the president for all".

"I am aware of the despair of the impoverished, the homeless and the unemployed, especially the young people, who have voted in such large numbers. You have shown genuine concern for the future of the only country we can call home - Namibia," Geingob said.

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