….Accused of giving preferential treatment to its own
….’Swapo digging own grave if it blurs line between party and State’
When former Swapo Party Youth League Secretary Dr. Elijah Ngurare told a group of students at Polytechnic of Namibia (now Namibia University of Science and Technology) that “when you are Swapo you are a step ahead of others”, many saw it as a mere political gimmick to lure young voters into the SPYL youth wing’s structures.
At the time, he was urging students at the institution to ensure that they form proper SPYL structures on campus which can advocate for their needs.
“You must have better structures and platforms, if you have these, the problems related to funding will be taken care of and you will be a step ahead of the others. You will also have access to your minister. When you are Swapo it makes life easier,” said Ngurare at the time prior to his unexpected downfall in the party.
This week the High Court heard how former Hardap Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa ordered officials to remove names of individuals from the Mass Housing list due to their political affiliation.
The Patriot also recently reported how government continues to give preferential treatment to the Struggle Kids at the expense of other Namibian youth.
The Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister I-Ben Nashandi bluntly told this newspaper in an interview that the struggle kids get preferential treatment because (we[Swapo] are taking care of our own first).
The debate on how Swapo card holders continue to receive preferential treatment at the expense of Namibians who are not within the ruling party fold, continues unabated.
This is despite Swapo claiming for long that the Swapo-led government will serve all Namibians equally, the rhetoric and action have not been consistent.
Several taxpayers who are not aligned to the ruling party have in years gone by denounced the preferential treatment accorded to Swapo members, with many arguing that resources of the country should equally distributed.
Swapo digging own grave
Political Scientist Ndumba Kamwanyah cautioned the ruling party that if it continues with the trend of giving preference to party members instead of considering competency, “it is digging its own grave”.
He said failure to separate the party from the State has negative implications for the democracy of the country.
“That is how you kill it[democracy]. Look at other African countries where party and State lines are non-existent,” he cautioned strongly.
“It is good for the party to advance their own people, but party affiliation should not be a criteria for someone to be employed in government because to be affiliated with a party is not a skill and it is not knowledge based. The trend is worrisome because we may end up putting people in positions where they are not qualified, the only qualification in this case is the fact that they are party members.
We might also have a problem where competent people are side-lined because they are not part of the structures. It will be to the advantage of Swapo, if they open up to attract competent people rather than looking at membership because when government programmes are successfully implemented the Swapo-led takes the credit,” he said.
Kamwanyah: “When you bring your own people who lacks competency you will have problems implementing policies and services which will reflect badly on the party.”
The party, Kamwanyah said, should remember that “nowhere in our national regulations does it stipulate that those who form part of the ruling party must receive preferential treatment.
Hanse-Himarwa in court
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Paul Nghiwilepo testified this week that the then governor directed him to remove two names from a list of 19 beneficiaries to be granted houses by the Ministry of Regional, Housing and Local Government under the Mass Housing programme on 19 December 2014, saying that the two people should be removed because of their political affiliation.
Nghiwilepo stated in the High Court that the then governor instructed him to remove Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman from the list, replacing them with Justine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hansen whose names were provided by the governor both claiming to be her relatives. “She wanted Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman to be removed from the list of beneficiaries due to their political association.
Nghiwilepo added that when the team learnt that two names were to be removed from the list, lots of questions were asked, to which he responded stating that the removal of those names was authorised by the accused. “The team was asking lot of questions regarding this matter, and I told them that the subtraction of Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman was authorised by the Governor”, he elaborated.
The CEO further stated that the contracts were already signed by the beneficiaries, whose names appear in a list, adding they had to organise a brief meeting where they informed the two people removed from the list in the presence of the Rehoboth East Councillor, Edward Wambo. He indicated that they were informed that their names will be pushed to the batch of the next handover.
Nghiwilepo further stated that the programme was run by the Ministry of Regional, Housing and Local Government and he was surprised by the Governor’s involvement. “The mass housing programme was only run by the ministry and the Governor was not supposed to be involved.”, he stressed. Nghiwilepo noted for the record that the CEO reports to the Council of the Mariental municipality, but not to the Governor.
Nghiwilepo during his appearance at the High Court also informed the court that it was the Ministry’s Advisor, Gabriel Marin Castro who told him that the Minister of Basic Education, Arts and Culture ordered two names to be removed from a list, citing as reason that they do not belong to the ruling party.
When questioned by the State Advocate, Ed Marondedze if he knew two names that were given by accused, Nghiwilepo replied that he did not know them.
When the State Advocate asked whether personal verifications were made regarding the two names recommended by the then governor, or whether the new beneficiaries were physical disabled, Nghiwilepo responded that there were no personal verifications conducted and he cannot recall seeing any physical disabilities to the two people, added by Hanse-Himarwa.
Hanse-Himarwa continues to deny using her office as a governor to direct the witness to remove two people from the list of 19 beneficiaries of mass housing programme. The Education Minister remains optimistic that she will prove to everyone that she did not commit any corruption during her tenure as the governor.
Defense Lawyer, Sisa Namandje told the court that the witness has submitted five written statements to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) which Namandje believed to be pivotal evidence to his client’s court case.
Nghiwilepo replied that he notified the governor (Katrina Hanse-Himarwa) that the ACC requested him to write those statements explaining what exactly happened. Judge Christie Liebenberg requested for Namandje to present the evidence of the statements which he considered as information concealed, instead of making serious allegations against the witness without sufficient evidence backing his accusations.
Nghiwilepo denied being forced by the ACC Agents to present evidence which incriminating the Education minister, saying that he told the accused that they were ACC Investigators who conducted him enquiring about his connection on the allegedly corruption case in the handling of the mass housing houses to the beneficiaries.
Nghiwilepo admitted that the accused is a good friend and business partner, adding that he knows Hanse-Himarwa personally, and not only as then governor. “There is no hostility between us. We maintain friendly relationship and professionalism and I know the governor personally, not only as a governor”, he stated.
The struggle kids
Permanent Secretary Nashandi during the interview a few weeks back was unapologetic when he stated that government has a target group when it comes to dishing out jobs to the struggle kids.
“The program, which is dedicated only for the children of the liberation struggle started in 2015 and we cannot at this stage say for how long it will go on.
We have a master list and when funds are available we take them for training at Berg Aukas and then we deploy them subject to availability of vacancies,” said Nashandi at the time.
Asked why the post of PRO was not advertised to allow all Namibians, including the struggle kids to compete for the position, Nashandi said: “Why do you advertise when you have a target group?”
“This is a Swapo government and it is simply taking care of one of its problems. Who do you expect to help these kids, if not the Swapo government?
The government has a responsibility to every citizen including the Struggle Kids so why are people restless on this issue?” queried Nashandi.
He was reacting to a case whereby a struggle kid was wheel-chaired into the position of Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry without the vacancy being advertised.
More recently, government also gave top priority for 15 struggle kids to be employed at the farm of Russian land baron Rashid Sardarov near the Dordabis area.
This is at the expense of jobless youth who live around the surrounding farms.