Namibia: Geingob - 'I Inherited a Broke Govt'

Namibia at 30
18 March 2020

President Hage Geingob said he inherited a government that had "zero" in its coffers five years ago.

Geingob made these remarks when he responded to a question by Nampa on Monday.

When the president was asked to reflect on his last five years in office, he did not shy away from explaining the state of affairs when he took over the reins from his predecessor, Hifikepunye Pohamba.

"We took over when the economy was down. Normally, when you form a government, we used to carry over Saara's money (in reference to then Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila). That was N$3 billion or so. [But] when we took over, it was zero. Go and check it. It's the truth.

It was zero and taxes do not come from January [or] February. They are paid throughout the year. So [there was a] cash-flow problem," he said.

He said it was his preoccupation to clean-up the wastage in government and resuscitate an economy that was in a precarious state.

"We came to clean up wastage. Even in this State House," Geingob said.

He added that even the furniture found in the presidential hanger at the Hosea Kutako International Airport and Eros Airport were just in the hallways of State House, serving no purpose.

But his administration took it upon itself to take the said furniture to the airports.

To further curb wastage, Geingob said he closed tender taps which had for years created fly-by-night millionaires who overcharged the government for services.

"A case in point is the airport (tender), which was N$3 billion originally and ended up at N$7 billion. We stopped it. I stopped it... In the end, we saved the country N$4 billion," he said.

He added that his government is performance-based, as Cabinet, ministers' performances are assessed by the prime minister, while noting that Namibia's governance architecture is impeccable.

For Geingob, it is unfortunate that despite his efforts to improve the governance architecture of Namibia by improving the country's systems, processes and institutions, these efforts either go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Geingob added that his anti-corruption crusade speaks for itself, saying when he heard that some members of the executive were implicated in corrupt activities, he acted.

"We had to look at certain instances where we realised that something is not right. We wrote letters to those ministers [saying] 'this is what I am hearing, what do you say?' Ministers answered.

When I got that [those responses], I am not an expert, I handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, some of the things that have now come out that you are calling the Fish rot, I was following it up. You saw some ministers were demoted because of that as we were investigating. Some of them became my enemies because of addressing potential allegations of corruption like the deals they made with the Angolans," he explained.

His remarks come at a time when two former Cabinet ministers and senior Swapo leaders, Sacky Shanghala, Bernhardt Esau, their alleged accomplices and prominent Swapo-linked lawyers are embroiled in allegations of corruption.

Shanghala, Esau and their co-accused have lodged numerous unsuccessful attempts in court to have the charges against them nullified, and they remain in custody.

It is alleged that the politicians and those closest to them pocketed at least N$150 million in kickbacks and bribes over a four-year period. - Nampa

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