…as NCIS threatens to appeal
Information detailing the extent to which the disgraced Namibian Central Intelligence Services(NCIS) has spent taxpayers money to fund a private association of former spies has exposed the agency’s shady dealings.
NCIS has consistently denied that it is linked to the association that was formed to advance the socio-economic wellbeing of former spies, despite facts proving the opposite.
“Kindly be advised that the Namibia Central Intelligence Service and or Mr Likando cannot comment or answer questions or issues that relate to another entity. On this basis, our clients are not in a position to answer any question…,” said the government attorney Mathias Kashindi in April 2018.
However, a trove of documents, seen by The Patriot related to the NCIS-linked association, details the intricate web of connection between the NCIS and the association which include cash donations as well as usage of government facilities.
It is not known whether the donations were sanctioned by Treasury or the President.
It has been a case of easy pickings for the association at the country’s spy agency. It has sucked huge sums out of NCIS, as well as other donations in form of offices, equipment and subsidised accommodation. NCIS has also been an alleged cash cow for some of the spy agents through the farms and guesthouses owned by the spy agency in which lucrative deals and apparently sham arrangements have been struck.
Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, according to documents, has played a key role in endorsing the association which was established to take care of ex-spies.
Pohamba, The Patriot understands, bestowed upon the association the status of being a non-organic part of the NCIS.
Following the bestowment of the title, NCIS director Benedict Likando said “ in this regard all members of the association are now regarded as employees of NCIS”.
The members from the association enjoys an avalanche of benefits.
The association has targeted to benefit from lucrative economic areas such as mining exploration, fishing quotas, construction, agriculture, tourism and construction.
In 2015, the association was accorded office space equipped with furniture, stationary and communication tools at the highly-secured training facility of the NCIS. The facility’s location is known to The Patriot but cannot be revealed for security reasons.
NCIS also gave the association a laptop and a memory stick.
NCIS also pledged to donate a motor vehicle to the association for the use of the association.
The NCIS also fulfilled the promise it made on 7 June 2015 to donate N$100 000 to the association.
Although the spy agency vehemently denied links to the association, there is also strong evidence that one of its employees was part of a task team composed by the association to explore the viability of the already listed income generating projects and to look into possible business proposals on behalf of the association as well as to identify other projects that could generate income for the association.
Likando on 16 May 2015 at the association’s consultative meeting held at Arebbusch pledged N$1 million to the association.
NCIS pledged surety and the provision of back-up capital for the association when needed.
Sources have since accused the spy agency of corruption due to the fact that non-government employees (such as former NCIS members) are benefiting from resources of the State without such being lawfully enacted by the Public Service Commission or Parliament.
A second source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the link between NCIS and the association paints a picture that the rot is much deeper in the NCIS.
“I want to hear how they will explain this, because there is no logical explanation.
Does this mean a group of retired nurses or police officers can form an association and benefit handsomely from the relevant ministries?” questioned the source.
Likando also indicated that former NCIS members qualify for reduced rates at NCIS accommodation facilities as well as free accommodation for a set period at the NCIS guest house in Swakopmund. “The NCIS, through its Club Namib, also sells game meat at affordable rates and former members also qualify for this,” he said.
Likando also said at the time that NCIS will pay for an administrative assistant to handle the administrative matters of the association.
Another pledge made by Likando is that death benefits of former members are the same as death benefits of serving NCIS members.
“In this regard, death benefits are also extended to spouses, children and parents of former members as well,” Likando said.
The director also pledged to assist the association to find suitable office space in the capital.
It is not known if the house[address known] NCIS purchased in 2016 for N$8.2 million has been offered to the association.
NCIS also owns at at least two commercial farms in the Otjozondjupa region that were bought for over N$57 million.
Title deeds obtained of one of the farms indicate that one farm was bought for N$17 million.
The second farm is said to have been bought for N$40 million. This farm is managed by a retired but very highly placed agent, whose wife remains an employee of the NCIS.
It is alleged that some of the association members live on the farms. In addition to its guesthouse in Swakopmund, the agency also owns a guesthouse in Ludwigsdorf which, according to sources privy to the matter, is managed by a private individual. It is not known what happens with the revenue generated from the accommodation facilities owned by the NCIS.
The Patriot also knows of several other properties purchased by the agency that cannot be disclosed.
A number of properties owned by the NCIS are not registered in the name of spy agency, numerous shell companies have been formed to house the properties. With the NCIS having gone on a spending spree to buy properties, it is not know if all legal procedures were followed.
According to the Namibia Central Intelligence Service Act 10 of 1997, the Director General may, on the recommendation of the Means Committee and with prior approval of the President and of the Treasury acquire or hire any land or premises, with or without any buildings thereon, which may be necessary for the efficient functioning of the Service, and erect and maintain any buildings so required.
They also need permission to sell, let or otherwise dispose of any land or premises, with or without any buildings thereon, which are no longer required for the efficient functioning of the Service.
Notice to appeal
The agency, through the government attorney Mathias Kashindi on Wednesday stated that it has instructed its legal team to note an appeal against the judgment of the High Court delivered on Monday by Judge Harald Geier. Geier dismissed NCIS’ application with costs.
“In light of the appeal that we will be noting shortly, we advise that, your clients must as of now not publish, circulate and or disseminate any information that contravenes any provision of the Namibia Central Intelligence Services Act, Act No 84 of 1982 as amended until such a time that the Supreme Court has finalised the appeal we will be lodging shortly,” Kashindi said in a letter written to Norman Tjombe who is representing The Patriot.
He added: “We confirm that, our clients have read the questions that your clients have posed to the Service and have sought and obtained legal advice on nature, effect and content of those questions and are of the view that, all the information that clients and their sources are seeking is protected by the above-mentioned laws and for this reason, our client cannot and will not contravene the above-mentioned laws by commenting and or responding to your clients’ questions.
On this basis, your client can accept this position as our clients’ response on those questions.”
Tjombe confirmed that by close of business yesterday, no notice of appeal had been filed.
Tjombe also commented that in any event an appeal against the judgment of Justice Geier is doomed for failure as the appeal will be frivolous. “Even if there was a proper appeal, that would not be be an obstacle for The Patriot to continue with the publication of the information. The High Court made it clear that a publication for the purpose of exposing alleged malpractice and corruption. That is a perfectly legitimate reason to publish,” said Tjombe.
The NCIS establishing act states that the agency shall annually, not later than 31 July of each year, submit to the President a report on the activities of the Service during the period of 12 months preceding 31 March of that year. The agency is required to furnish such information relating to anything done by the Service in terms of this Act as the President may require.
When asked whether the reports were submitted, the presidency asked for more time to respond.
The cluster receives a huge chunk of the national budget, yet it is the least transparent as far as giving account on how public funds are spent is concerned.
The NCIS is by law obliged to account to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security but upon enquiry at parliament no single report had been tabled for the past three years.
In a bid to block the publication of this story, NCIS claimed in court papers that the publication of the information will jeopardise the national security of the country. “I assert that the operations of the NCIS are by law and practice held in secret and no unauthorised disclosure of such operations or anything related to such operations is allowed by law,” claims the court documents.
The defence team of NCIS also indicated that it cannot the nature and description of the properties that The Patriot wish to publish because it will essentially result in the disclosure of the properties.
“I submit that if I disclose the nature and description of those properties that will be contrary to the aforesaid provisions of the law that I have referred to and that may as well amount to an unlawful disclose of sensitive and or classified information,” said the NCIS defense team.
Questions sent to the NCIS on 19 June 2018
Q: The law states that NCIS shall annually, not later than 31 July of each year, submit to the President a report on the activities of the Service in terms of this Act during the period of 12 months preceding 31 March of that year and shall furnish such information relating to anything done by the Service in terms of this Act as the President may require. Has this been done since 2015?
Q: The NCIS Act of 1997 prescribes that the Service must get permission from the President when acquiring property. Is this requirement being adhered to?
Q: Are there any national interests that prompted the acquisition of properties such as farms, lodges and guesthouses? Considering that they are deemed not to be conventional operational tools of intelligence services globally?
Q: How is the revenue generated from the accommodation facilities accounted for and who manages the facilities?
Q: How many farms and guesthouses does NCIS own and how much did it cost to procure them?
Q: We also understand NCIS bought a house in Windhoek for N$8.2 million in 2016.What is the purpose of this acquisition?
I ask this because there are claims that this house is also being used by the Association of Former NCIS members.
Q: The house was bought in 2016 at a time when government was, and still is, experiencing a difficult economic situation.
Why was it so urgent to procure this property?
Q: Were all the necessary valuations done to ensure that the house was indeed worth the selling price?
Q: In April 2015 NCIS paid N$100 000 to the Association. Was this transfer sanctioned by Treasury or the President?
Q: We understand the Association was granted office space at the training facility of NCIS. Was approval sought from the authorities to allow an association of private individuals to utilize state property? If yes, when was this permission sought?
Q: We also understand NCIS bought a laptop and memory stick and donated it to the Association. What was the value of these goods and who gave permission for a private association to benefit from State funding?
Q: Is the Association still making use of the office space at the training facility?
Q: NCIS, The Patriot understands, in the past pledged to donate a motor vehicle to the Association. Was this pledge ever executed?
(i) If yes, when and what is the value of the vehicle acquired
(ii) If no, why was it not carried out?
Q: On 16 May 2015, NCIS Director Benedict Likando pledged surety and provide back-up capital for the Association when needed. Is this legally acceptable, considering the fact that the association is not linked to government in any way?
Q: Was the N$1.1 million that was pledged by Mr. Likando in 2015 ever transferred to the Association?
Q: Were there any other cash transactions transferred from NCIS to the Association?
Q: Why do former NCIS members qualify for reduced rates at NCIS accommodation facilities as well as free lodging at the NCIS guest house in Swakopmund?
Q: We understand that former President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, bestowed upon the Association the status of being “Non-Organic” part of the NCIS. Can you please explain what this means.
Q: Can the NCIS categorically explain the relationship that exists between itself and the Association of Former NCIS members?
Q: Is “Organic part of NCIS” not deemed to be in violation of the law in that a private organization is now part of the security apparatus – a statutory and constitutional body.
Does the President know about the arrangement between the NCIS and the private organization?
Q: Why was it deemed necessary that the former members of NCIS must get benefits more than what other former government employees get?
Q: Or are the benefits like reduced prices at NCIS guest houses also available to former government employees?
Q: Is it not corruption that non-government employees (such as former NCIS members) are benefiting from resources of the State without such being lawfully enacted by the Public Service Commission or Parliament?
Q: Is it true that the NCIS owns a number of luxury and sports cars which have been bought and some have not been used?
If so, what is the purpose of the acquisition of luxury and sports cars, like VW Golf R and GTIs, Mercedes C63, and not cheaper vehicles?