Namibia: Noa 'Protecting Fishrot-Tainted Swapo'

ANTI-CORRUPTION Commission director general Paulus Noa insisted yesterday that Swapo did not "directly" benefit from the Fishrot scandal, despite evidence showing that the ruling party benefited through law firms and campaign financing.

Noa, whose extended term expires this month, attempted to clear Swapo's name during an ACC workshop on Tuesday.

NBC reported on this workshop, quoting Noa as saying, "We were satisfied that no single cent from those companies went directly into the bank account of that particular party [Swapo]".

Some see Noa's latest move as a tactic to "sing for his supper" and get an extension to the six-month term, but the ACC boss told The Namibian yesterday "I am not in shortage of employment".

Noa's comments came after revelations that top Swapo leaders, such as vice president Nangolo Mbumba, secretary general Sophia Shaningwa and Swapo lawyer Sisa Namandje, were listed as state witnesses in the Fishrot corruption scandal.

Noa said he was merely trying to educate people who think Swapo is accused of corruption just because the party secretary general is a state witness.

"Contrary to the misconceptions of those who confronted me, the name of the secretary general of Swapo appears on the list of witnesses [not] because she is involved in corruption," Noa said.

He added, "It was, in fact, ACC who summoned her in her capacity as secretary general of her party to establish whether there was any money paid into the bank accounts of the party by the suspected companies and not because we were suspecting her of any wrongdoing."

Speaking at Keetmanshoop this week, Noa said obtaining statements from Swapo did not mean that the party was involved in any wrongdoing.

The ACC chief said they only asked Swapo to "hear from them what has happened".

"I can give you an example, [the] secretary general of the Swapo party, we have to summon her to find out: 'Do you know anything about what is being alleged against your party?'," he said.

Noa said the ACC asked Shaningwa to give them all the bank accounts of the party so that they can compare [it] with all the other bank accounts implicated in the case and see if money was transferred to the ruling party.

He declined to comment on whether he will stay or end his tenure, which has lasted more than 16 years.

Noa referred The Namibian to the appointing authorities.

"For your information, the director general of the ACC is not appointed by Swapo, but by the National Assembly. I am not in shortage of employment," the ACC boss reiterated.

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) executive director Graham Hopwood told The Namibian yesterday that "this is disingenuous of Mr Noa".

"He knows full well that the allegations are that Fishrot-tainted funds went to Swapo-linked entities and individuals and not directly into the party's bank accounts," he said.

Hopwood added that "unfortunately, these comments just reinforce the impression that Mr Noa is always very keen to clear politically connected individuals without undertaking thorough investigations".

He said he still remembers how Noa almost immediately cleared those linked to the over-payments to the UK-based lawyers on the genocide issue.

"How Fishrot money ended up with Swapo-linked entities and for what purpose it was used should still be investigated," Hopwood said.

Noa's comments have raised concerns that the ACC is shielding Swapo from prosecution. His comments are similar to what president Hage Geingob said last year when he said Swapo did not get "direct" funding from Fishrot.

Yet, in fact, ACC investigator Willem Olivier told the court last year money stolen from the national fishing company Fishcor ended up funding Swapo campaigns.

Lawyer Marén de Klerk, who is accused of being the paymaster in the Fishrot scandal, told the ACC in April last year that Sacky Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi told him Mbumba approved a Swapo structure that benefited from money stolen from Fishcor.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani said Noa is compromised.

"The ACC director general must go home if he is tired. He must not fool us with the obvious. The mere fact that he served on Swapo social media groups until the unravelling of Fishrot shows he is compromised," Venaani said.

"Lawyer Namandje was on record that he facilitated on behalf of Swapo and the ACC is oblivious to that fact," Venaani said.

Namandje confirmed to the ACC last year that his law firm handled millions of dollars that now form part of the Fishrot investigation.

In a sworn statement submitted to the ACC in October last year, Namandje revealed that between 2012 and 2017, his law firm - Sisa Namandje & Co Inc. - has dealt with millions linked to Swapo.

The lawyer revealed that at least N$7,5 million of the N$23 million processed through the trust account of his firm was meant to fund Swapo's "2017 congress activities" at which president Geingob was elected party president.

According to Namandje's statement, former Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba was aware of these payments.

"I informed the party's secretary general, Nangolo Mbumba, of the donations from Seaflower [Fishcor]," he said.

Noa's comments relieved Swapo's top administrator Shaningwa.

She circulated an NBC video clip of Noa making the Swapo comments on Tuesday.

Shaningwa declined to comment on the matter.

"I have already given the Swapo party's position on the matter since day one. Therefore, I have no other comment".

The Namibian asked Shaningwa about Namandje's affidavit, which implicates Swapo. She responded: "He [Namandje] must tell in which account it [money] got deposited".

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