Namibia: I Warned Esau - Mutjavikua

Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua has opened up about how he unsuccessfully tried to intervene in the massive fishing sector job losses.

Most of the 4 500 fishermen who went on strike four years ago lost their jobs as a direct result of the withholding and manipulation of fishing quotas by the men implicated in the Fishrot scandal.

The job losses were largely caused by former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau's reallocation of fishing quotas to those linked to the unfolding Fishrot bribery scandal, the governor said. Esau is one of those implicated in the massive scandal, and is currently awaiting trial on the matter. Others in custody with him over the case is former justice minister Sacky Shanghala; former managing director of Investec Asset Management in Namibia, James Hatuikulipi (44); suspended Investec Namibia clients director Ricardo Gustavo (44); Esau's son-in-law Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi (38); and Pius 'Taxa' Mwatelulo (31). They were arrested for their alleged involvement in the fishing quota kickback scandal. Mutjavikua told The Namibian last week that besides the workers being dismissed due to an illegal strike, the job losses were mainly due to a system introduced by Esau. "I had various meetings with the former minister about the loss of fishing jobs. It was not just meetings, but I also tried to address the matter through various letters to him.

"This attempt was not by me alone, but with the collective support of the mayor of Walvis Bay, and the Swapo regional coordinator. These engagements took place in 2017, 2018 and sometime this year," Mutjavikua told The Namibian.

"In all these meetings, the minister did not indicate that he would not attend to the matter. In fact, he agreed that something will be done about it. But the action was never there.

"Also what contributed to the loss of jobs was the result of the system introduced by the minister. ," Mutjavikua said.

Namsov had to sell four of its vessels, and laid off more than 1 000 workers as a result of this. This, the governor said, was done strategically so that the quota could be allocated to Sacky Amoomo Kadhila's company and Camoposatu Investment, which in return benefited politicians and the well-connected.

"The minister then removed the quota and gave it to companies such as Omualu, which belongs to Sacky Amoomo Kadhila and Camoposatu Investment," the governor said.

Omualu is 100% owned by previously disadvantaged Namibians, and run by Kadhila as its managing director. Kadhila is implicated in the Fishrot scandal as the fixer. The company is a joint venture of five horse mackerel rights holders: Aluhe Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Mo-Be Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Omdiva Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Omukwa Management Fishing (Pty) Ltd, and Queen Kaleinasho Fishing (Pty) Ltd. The rights holders hold a 20% stake each in the company.

In 2013, Omualu purchased its own vessel, the MFV Green Sea, at a cost of N$25 million. They converted the vessel from a hake freezer trawler to a mid-water trawler. The company also opened its own processing plant at Walvis Bay, which Esau inaugurated on 15 August 2014. Camoposatu Investment and Vernier Investment are fishing quota holders created as a joint venture under the umbrella of Cavema Fishing. Cameva Fishing is chaired by Nico Kaiyamo.

However, Mutjavikua did not explain whether there was foul play on how the two companies received the fishing quotas.

Speaking to The Namibian, mayor of Walvis Bay, alderman Immanuel Wilfred, said the loss of fishing jobs has affected him badly.

Wilfred was re-elected the town's mayor in December 2018.

"I have tried talking to the former minister several times, but to no vail. How he did not even attempt to give a quota to another company to re-employ the fishermen is beyond me. I can show you everything I have - from minutes of meetings, to reports, and several engagements we have had.

"That is why I took a step to approach company to company, and raise more than N$1 million to donate to all these fishermen. Their families are suffering, their children have no food or basic items. It is a sad thing to watch," Wilfred stressed.

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