Allow me to take part into the debate brought forward by Minister of Education, Dr. David Namwandi, as reported in a local English newspaper of 11 April 2013, reacting to serious allegations that he, simultaneously runs the Ministry and International University of Management (IUM), which is viewed as a conflict of interest.
I recognize that the Minister rubbished the public observation as a source of “idle minds” which he says “is the devil’s workshop.”
Since Dr Namwandi was quoted saying: “I don’t know how people define conflict of interest…”, my limited research enabled me to access an internet dictionary, Investopedia, which explains it as “A situation where a professional, or a corporation, has a vested interest which may make them an unreliable source. The interest could be money, status, knowledge or reputation for example. When such a situation arises, the party is usually asked to remove themselves, and it is often legally required of them.”
The IUM founder confessed how the IUM owners acquired the land from the City of Windhoek which they could not pay for and government assisted them with N$2 million, and he told the newspaper that sometimes they could not pay their rent at TransNamib premises. And the government assisted them again.
Mind you, this is the very government that has no money to send the ever-protesting Children of the Liberation Struggle to vocational training centers for skills, to bail out Katutura residents whose houses are attached by the banks or taken from them by the same City of Windhoek as they cannot pay Municipal bills (water and electricity) and to assist the drought-stricken Namibian farmers. It is even shocking that some people are treated special because of their political connections and status in the community while many businesses have closed due to lack of funds.
According to Dr Namwandi, there is no problem if IUM students benefit from government bursaries while he is part of the Executive or Management Cadre, because they are Namibians like any other students. Yes, I am also sympathetic to his effort in “trying to contribute to national development as a Namibian citizen”, but what does the Namibian Constitution tell us? Here is the ‘proof of the pudding’:
Article 42 – Outside Employment
(1) During their tenure of office as members of the Cabinet, Ministers may not take up any other paid employment, engage in activities inconsistent with their positions as Ministers, or expose themselves to any situation which carries with it the risk of a conflict developing between their interests as Ministers and their private interests.
(2) No members of the Cabinet shall use their positions as such or use information entrusted to them confidentially as such members of the Cabinet, directly or indirectly to enrich themselves.
Does the above article apply to Dr Namwandi or is he above it?
The attitude shown by the Minister is found imperfect. Namibians cannot have “idle minds” when expressing their views on issues of national interests. Article 45, which is about the “Representative Nature”, simply states that, “The members of the National Assembly shall be representative of all the people and shall in the performance of their duties be guided by the objectives of this Constitution, by the public interest and by their conscience.” Therefore, what the Minister uttered is a dishonorable conduct and he is, hereby requested to retract such words- if he knows he is mandated and represents Namibians.
Equally, I challenge President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who challenged citizens to inform him about corrupt practices, to serious look into this appointment he has made as the good Minister cannot exonerate himself. I am not saying he should be fired but be given another responsibility, if found to involving himself in a conflict of interest.
By Wendelinus Hamutenya,