Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Why Calle wanted Goeiemann fired

A series of damning communications memoranda seen by The Patriot has shown the extent to which finance minister Calle Schlettwein went to get Ministry of Works and Transport permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann fired in 2017, albeit unsuccessfully.
Schlettwein wrote to Goeiemann on 28 August 2017 notifying him of plans to sack him from his position as PS. Goeiemann responded to Schlettwein informing him that he[Schlettwein] has no power to institute disciplinary steps against him.
After the Supreme Court found that the airport tender was unlawfully awarded to Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, Schlettwein felt that Goeiemann must be stripped of his powers because he failed in his duty to “scrupulously and transparently comply with statutory provisions” during the awarding of the multibillion dollar tender.
The Minister of Finance also claimed that the PS failed to safeguard the state’s interest within the context of procurement. The Minister further alleged that there was non-compliance with relevant statutes and that harm was caused to public finances and that this could not be left unattended.
The explosive evidence comes as Namibia grapples with the agony of having to operate an ailing Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Attorney General at the time Sakeus Shanghala however warned against removing Goeiemann from his job because “there was no evidence that Goeiemann’s conduct was a severe harm to the public finances.” Shanghala was also worried that Schlettwein seemed to be “too intricately involved in the matter so much that there may be reasonable apprehension that fairness may be compromised.”
“The opinion concludes that the Minister must reconsider the withdrawal of accounting functions and powers, in other words, the Minister is advised against withdrawing the accounting functions and powers of the said Permanent Secretary in this matter.
I fully concur with this conclusion,” said Shanghala in his advise to Schlettwein.
Shanghala added that Goeiemann did not violate the State Finance Act and that he is not convinced that the intended action is commensurate to the damage done by the conduct of the PS.
The documents show that Schlettwein went to the extent of getting a legal opinion in a bid to have Goeiemann removed from his job. Schlettwein also accused the PS of non-compliance with relevant statutes and failing to safeguard the State’s interests as far as procurement is concerned. “As a conclusion, Treasury has determined to revoke and withdraw your appointment as Accounting Officer,” said Schlettwein in his notice to Goeiemann.
The correspondence also gives insight into how the then AG advised Schlettwein to rather write a stern letter of caution to Goeiemann in which he reminds the PS of his functions.
Goeiemann, through his legal team De Klerk, Horn and Coetzee Incorporated accused the finance minister of acting arbitrarily, irrationally and grossly unreasonably, thus giving rise to numerous grounds for review both in terms of the common law and constituting a violation of Goeiemann’s Constitutional rights.
Goeiemann further stated: “The Minister has thus displayed a closed mind on these issues, which is evidence of his pre-judgement and bias in this matter, all of which are the bases for a review of any such decision the Minister might take on this matter.”
The PS maintained that Schlettwein is privy to the process and events that led to the awarding of the tender.
“This ranges from meetings with Namibia Airports Company, meetings between works and transport and Treasury and meetings between the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Much of this processes preceded our client’s appointment by many years,” said Goeiemann’s legal team. The legal team further indicated that Goeiemann cannot be held responsible for the collective decision. “Indeed it would be ludicrous to suggest that our client acted on a frolic of his own in writing the letter of 3 December 2015 to the successful tenderer informing him of the award.
The Minister is fully aware that this was a decision mandated not only by the Minister of Works and Transport, but also as a result of a collective decision-making process that was initiated prior to our client being appointed as PS as of 1 July 2015,” Goeiemann’s legal team argued.
The legal team also accused Schlettwein of using the campaign to get rid of Goeiemann as a tactic to shift blame and in the process avoiding personal blame.

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