Namibia: Ministry Questions Ownership Changes in Walenga's Fishing Company

Preparing fish to be tinned.
18 November 2021

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has asked a fishing company co-owned by businessman John Walenga to explain why it has changed its ownership without ministerial approval.

The company is called Tweya Fishing, and was established in 2000 to benefit from hake fishing quotas.

In their application that year, the company's owners included former Omusati governor Leonard Mukwiilongo, Anglican bishop James Kauluma, northern businessman Malakia Nakuumba, and Anna Nghipangelwa, the wife of the late First National Bank Namibia chief executive officer Lazarus Ipangelwa.

Other directors were Walenga's wife, Margret Namuhuja, and Kalina Timbo.

Each of them had a 10% stake in the company, except Kauluma, who had a 5% stake.

Walenga insisted that he started the company with his partners, and that his ex-wife was not involved.

According to the company's fishing rights application, some of the beneficiaries included the Senior Citizens' Welfare Trust Fund (20%), and a trust was to be incorporated to hold 10% of shares on behalf of Namibians with physical and mental disabilities.

Another trust was in the works for the Indigenous People's Business Council, which would own a 10% stake in the fishing company.

Documents show that the late Kauluma would be the senior citizens' representative in the Senior Citizens' Welfare Trust.

It appears the ownership structure of the company has changed over the years.

As a result, the executive director of fisheries and marine resources, Annely Haiphene, wrote to Tweya Fishing managing director Alfeus Kathindi in August this year.

Haiphene gave the company until the end of September to explain the sudden change in its shareholding structure.

"The ministry has noted that your shareholding structure has changed and [there are] no records available in the ministry indicating that such approval was granted by the minister, as per the Marine Resources Act," she wrote.

FAMILY SQUABBLE

Details about the ownership of Tweya Fishing is, however, linked to a squabble within the former Omusati governor's family about who is to benefit from the fishing quotas.

Mukwiilongo (93), a well-known liberation fighter, died on 27 May 2017 after he was attacked at his house.

One of Mukwiilongo's daughters, Kristi Mukwiilongo, has been asking Tweya Fishing where her father's dividends have been going since 2017.

She suspected one of her relatives was hijacking these payments.

Kristi last week told The Namibian her father owned a 10% share, but this has now been reduced to 4,5%.

She said she contacted Tweya Fishing several times, asking the company to distribute her father's shares among his children, and to pay them his dividends, but the company has not been cooperative.

She said officials running the company have failed to inform them that their father had a stake in the company.

"In one of the letters I asked Alfeus Kathindi [Tweya Fishing's managing director] how many shares our father owned, but he did not respond," she said.

Kathindi on Thursday told The Namibian he was not aware that the shares were reduced.

"They must talk to the executor and stop harassing people for nothing," Kathindi said.

Tweya Fishing is part of Omankete Investment, a joint venture that benefits from fishing quotas.

Omankete Investment managing director Oscar Shagwana declined to comment.

Anna Ipangelwa told The Namibian on Monday that she resigned from Tweya Fishing a long time ago.

Nakuumba said he is still part of Tweya Fishing, but did not know about a change in shareholding.

Walenga told The Namibian on Monday his ex-wife was never part of the company.

"As far as I can remember, Tate Mukwiilongo's shares have always been 5%," he said.

Walenga said Mukwiilongo's family has contacted Tweya Fishing individually.

"We advised them we don't deal with individuals. We only deal with the executor."

Walenga said what is owed to the late Mukwiilongo's estate is in the company and would be paid when the matter has been resolved.

He said the letter from the ministry claiming a change in shareholding structure is misguided.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

X