Friday 18 June 2021
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SONA platform must be fair for all: DTA

…President should explain SME Bank saga and fuel storage facility cost escalation

DTA President McHenry Venaani says the absence of a clear rule to regulate the State of the Nation Address (SONA) allows the sitting Namibian President to make a mockery of the joint sitting as opposition parties are simply expected to comply based the moods of the Speaker of the National Assembly on a given day.
Speaking at a media briefing earlier this week, Venaani said the absence of rules that govern and regulate defeats the purpose of SONA which is to “address Parliament on the state of the nation and on future policies”.
Geingob delivered his third SONA in the National Assembly yesterday.
Venaani expressed discontent that opposition parties were only given an opportunity to ask “three questions” to President Hage Geingob after addressing his SONA last year.
“The Speaker would unanimously say that every party must ask three questions. Now what was the intention for the President to come to the National Assembly and if the person is asked to ask only three questions on the SONA?
“The SONA is not one thematic issue. It’s not on the economy, roads, education, agriculture and poverty. How do we engage the state of the nation with three questions? Even the economy itself would have three or four questions that are fundamental,” charged Venaani.
The leader of the official opposition challenged Geingob to open up for debate and engage the Parliament on issues affecting the nation.
“In the olden days of [Hifikepunye] Pohamba and [Sam] Nujoma, this was the precedence [absence of debate] because half of the time the presidents could not answer the questions. Now we have someone who says he is capable of running our country (Geingob), who has a PhD, so why don’t we engage in a plethora of areas? Now he (Geingob) wants us to ask three or four questions on the crises in this country?” questioned Venaani.
Additionally, the DTA leader aid the SONA should be a platform where members of the Parliament are allowed to ask fundamental questions in “a fair and respectful manner”.
Similarly, Venaani highlighted that SONA was established to avail the sitting President the opportunity to report on the performance of government and its policies.
“The intention of the legislature is clear, firstly for the President to provide a report on the performance of government in the preceding year.
“Secondly, to serve as a platform as a platform to hold the President and the Executive accountable for government policies and performance in that same period.
As a consequence, Venaani charged at that Geingob used last year’s SONA a platform to launch the “Harambee Prosperity Plan” rather than reporting to the nation on the state of the country.
At this juncture, Venaani announced that the DTA will host its second “Real State of the Nation Address” on a yet to be determined date.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Venaani said he expects President Geingob to reveal to the nation the information contained in the “GIPF report” and report as to how the costs for the fuel storage facility escalated to over “N$5 billion” during SONA.
“There is a debate already on the fuel storage facility of Walvis Bay. The fuel storage facility, a tender was increased from N$3 billion to N$5 billion. Recommendations were made that the PS (permanent secretary) National Planning Commission must be investigated but nothing has been done, why is the President covering corruption?” Venaani asked.
Moreover, Venaani expects Geingob to tell the nation about government’s stance in the SME Bank saga in which six parastatals face the risk of close to N$740 million.
“Already N$740 million is in question, the Bank of Namibia says that this money which invested (in SME Bank) by NamWater, GIPF and Social Security could have been lost. N$740 million, why is the President quiet about this? “Is the corruption that we (government) talk only a matter of perception? We are just intellectualising corruption but we are not acting on it, that is one area that I want the President to come clear on,” added Venaani. Earlier this week, local daily The Namibian reported that six government parastatals face a risk of losing close N$200 million which was questionably invested in South Africa.
According to the report, Bank of Namibia (BoN) filed an affidavit last week in which the bank’s Governor, Ipumbu Shiimi said he had reason to believe that investments made by the “third part respondents (SME Bank) in South Africa are likely lost”.
Reports show that scandal rocked Social Security Commission invested N$150 million while other state owned enterprises such as the Government Institutions Pension Fund (N$100 million), National Energy Fund (N$260 million) and Namibia Water Corporation (N$140) all pumped millions into the troubled SME Bank.

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