Namibia: Adjovi a No-Show At Kora Case Hearing

AFRICAN music awards promoter Ernest Adjovi will not be testifying to defend his company Mundial Telecom SARL against a N$23-million claim, which the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) is pursuing against it in the Windhoek High Court.

Adjovi was not present in court during the hearing of testimony on the NTB's claim against Mundial Telecom this week, and one of his company's lawyers, James Diedericks, also closed Mundial Telecom's case yesterday without calling any witnesses to testify in support of the company's defence against the NTB's claim.

Diedericks informed judge Herman Oosthuizen on Wednesday that Adjovi would not be able to travel to Namibia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

He also said he had instructions to ask the court to hear testimony on behalf of Mundial Telecom through a video conference set-up.

After Kaijata Kangueehi, representing the NTB, objected to that suggestion, the judge said in the absence of an agreement between the parties in the case he would not allow testimony to be heard by video conference.

With no testimony having been heard from Adjovi, claims made by him in a witness statement about president Hage Geingob and the then attorney general Sacky Shanghala having been "well aware of the circumstances surrounding this matter" will now not be part of the evidence on which the judge will decide the case.

Diedericks closed the case on behalf of Mundial Telecom after Kangueehi closed the NTB's case yesterday.

NTB chief executive officer Digu //Naobeb was the only witness who testified during the hearing of the matter since Monday.

The NTB is suing Adjovi's company for US$1,5 million in connection with payments then totalling N$23,5 million, which the NTB made to Mundial Telecom in December 2015, January 2016 and February 2016, before the company was due to stage the All Africa Kora Music Awards in Namibia in March 2016.

Adjovi was initially cited as second defendant in the case, but Oosthuizen ruled in July 2018 that the High Court does not have jurisdiction over him, since he is not a resident of Namibia, and no property belonging to him had been attached in Namibia to establish the court's jurisdiction over him.

In terms of an agreement concluded between the NTB and Mundial Telecom on 4 December 2015, the company undertook to promote Namibia as a tourism destination through television clips that were to be shown in African countries participating in the Kora awards.

The agreement also had a clause stating that Mundial Telecom was to repay the US$1,5 million it was to receive from the NTB for the Namibian tourism promotional campaign within 60 days if the awards ceremony did not take place in Namibia.

The NTB is claiming that after the awards show was not staged as touted by Adjovi and Mundial Telecom, the company failed to repay the money and used the funds it had received from the NTB for purposes other than those intended and agreed to by the company and the tourism board.

//Naobeb acknowledged during his testimony that the agreement with Mundial Telecom stated that the NTB was to pay the US$1,5 million for a tourism promotional package to the company by 10 December 2015.

However, that deadline was not honoured, and the money was paid to Mundial Telecom in instalments of N$5 million each on 22 and 23 December 2015 and on 7 January 2016, followed by a last payment of N$8,5 million on 17 February 2016.

//Naobeb said the then Ministry of Environment and Tourism provided the money in tranches to the NTB, and since Adjovi knew this there was a "gentleman's agreement" that the NTB would not be strictly held to the payment deadline of 10 December 2015.

While the ministry effectively directed the NTB to buy the tourism promotional package from Adjovi's company, the NTB was not forced into the agreement, //Naobeb said.

He added that in his opinion the agreement between the NTB and Mundial Telecom was rushed, with Adjovi pushing for it to be signed before he was to leave Namibia, and that he would have wanted the proposed agreement to be placed before the NTB's board first, before it was signed.

Although he felt in early February 2016 there were red flags about whether the awards show would be staged in Namibia as promised, the NTB continued to make the last payment to the company later that month, because that was part of its contractual obligations and Adjovi was encouraging the NTB to make the last payment, //Naobeb further told the court.

The matter has been postponed to 31 May to have the record of proceedings transcribed in the meantime.

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