“Dr Geingob and I became firm friends to such an extent that we visited each other, regularly played tennis and socialised with each other. These are the words of Benin born businessman, Ernest Coovi Adjovi, as they appear in his witness statement cited as the second defendant.
Adjovi along with Mundial Telecom Sarl, a telecom service company which Adjovi claims presidency of, are cited as first, second and third defendant respectively while the Namibia Tourism Board is the plaintiff. Slated to have been held on 20 December 2015, after which it was then postponed to 20 March 2016, the Kora Awards never saw the light of day in Namibia. This is despite the Namibian Government parting with over N$ 23 million dollars. Supported by Namibian corporates such as Air Namibia, Namibia Tourism Board, Windhoek Country Club, Namibia Broadcasting Corporation and New Era, Geingob distanced himself from the awards pledging his support but claiming no further part of it.
This week, the case management proceedings kicked off in camera with the case scheduled to appear in the High Court in November 2019.
After a flurry of letters, this week Job Amupanda of the Affirmative Repositioning movement threatened to bring an urgent application to the High Court, should the legal documents not be made available to the public and the media.
The documents consist of pre-trial statements made by the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) as the plaintiff in the matter, and Mundial Telecom Sarl, Ernst C Adjovi and Tonata Shiimi.
NTB sued Mundial Telecom Sarl and Tonata Shiimi in September 2016 for the amount of N$23.5 million that it paid to purchase the ‘Platinum Tourism Package’.
What do we know?
The court is to decide on several issues during the trial, specifically whether Shiimi ‘conducted himself as the national director of Mundial Telecom Sarl in concluding the agreement between NTB and Mundial Telecom Sarl. It would also seek to rule on whether or not Shiimi’s conduct as aforesaid exceeded the bounds of him acting as a mere agent of Mundial Telecom Sarl and Ernst Adjovi and further whether Shiimi violated Mundial Telecom Sarl’s rights under the agreement entered into between NTB and Mundial Telecom Sarl’, according to the court transcripts.
The court further has to determine whether or not NTB complied with the terms of their agreement; whether NTB made payments to Mundial Telecom Sarl late in terms of their agreement; whether the Kora awards could not take place as a result of the alleged breach by NTB or by the Government of Namibia as claimed by NTB.’
In total there are 41 issues the court is to decide on while one of the most notable facts that are not in dispute is that ‘NTB paid to Mundial Telecom Sarl the total amount of USD1.500.000,00 on the basis of the agreement between the parties.’
The plaintiff and the defendant’s all submitted written witness statement, with Adjovi using the opportunity to tell of his association with the President of the country. “Dr Geingob and I lost contact with each other for some time after he left government. However we re-established ties during 2014 to such an extent that it led to agreements being signed between first defendant and plaintiff and first defendant and the Government of Namibia,” his statement reads.
Adjovi alleges in his statement that he engaged “in discussions with the present Honourable Minister of Justice Mr Sakeus Shangala.
Mr Shangala who was then the Attorney General was responsible for the drafting of the agreements between first defendant and the Government of Namibia. As such he was well aware of the obligations of all parties and the various breaches which resulted in this matter being instituted. During a telephone discussion on 1 March 2018 Mr Shangala undertook to find the sponsors necessary (as agreed to by the Government) to cover the costs of suppliers and pay them directly. I understood that this was the obligation of the Government of Namibia in terms of the agreement between it and the first defendant,” his statement alleges.
One Fortune Nounagnon Degbegni, in his capacity as line producer of Mundial Telecom sarl, in his written evidence to the court wrote, “Mr Geingob wanted the KORA to take place in Namibia. Mr Adjovi wanted me to make myself available as line producer within the KORA team as I had previously acted as such and had the necessary experience.”
He further gives evidence that “Mr Tonata Shiimi explained that the Chinese sponsors promised by Mr Hage Geingob were asking for the granting of a (tender) contract before considering sponsoring the event. From that moment I was the success of the event becoming risky because timewise, the technicians needed more than 3 weeks to get the tent erected and make the site ready for the event,” he writes.
The trial date will be set on the 18th of October and is expected to run for a period of 5 days.
When contacted for comment, Tourism Minister Shifeta was adamant that it was never the request of Government that the hearing would be held in-camera. “No, no, no. It must be a public hearing. The executive cannot interfere with the courts. In any event, civil cases are never heard in-camera. This week, the lawyers only dealt with the narrowing down of issues.
When approaching Justice Minister Shangala for comment as to whether Adjovi’s statement is true, Shangala responded by saying that the drawing up of contracts was his job, “but that I did it upon instruction. My job doesn’t include looking for sponsors”.
Shifeta concluded his telephonic interview by saying “Let us wait for the trial to start, everything will come out. I am looking forward to the hearing.”