By Risco Lumamezi
At this time around, the accused managers, Mr. Geoffrey Mugwala Project Director, Mr. Fahard Nadim, Project Consultant and Mr. Chris Chipango the Administrator have been allegedly awarding tenders at the project without advertising since its inception, including a tender for the supply of timbers, which has gone beyond reasonable standards.
Caprivi Vision established allegations from the site contractors that accused managers after they have failed to meet requirements to import quality timbers with the Zambian authorities, they finally approached a local registered timber vendor and thy told the timber suppliers that they wanted timbers to be exported to Brazil as this was not true.“We delivered a consignment of 20 cubic meters of timbers and they paid N$20 000.” said the source.
They alleged that, Corruption started when they were paying these timber suppliers a small amount of money, according to the real rate, 1cubic meter of timber cost N$5000, but the management of the Waterfront was paying these local suppliers at N$2700 per 1 cubic meter and they pocketed N$2300 per each cubic metre for themselves.
The local timber suppliers they also managed to deliver 40 cubic meters of timbers for the second time to the Waterfront. After delivering the timbers, the management of the waterfront was now reluctant and hesitant to pay them.
They noted that they was no agreement which was signed between the timber suppliers and the Zambezi Waterfront since they were other middle man who was between and this person was tendered to supply timber direct to the waterfront. They alleged that Mr. Chipango who is the administrator gave a tender to his uncle who was pretending to be the supplier.
The Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park is a project of the Namibian government initiated by the Ministry of Finance, which is set to uplift the living standards of the people of Caprivi. The idea was mooted in 2000 and construction of this N$350 million project only started late in 2007.
The state-of-the-art Park is expected to be open to the public this year according to its time line and will include a floating platform at the banks of the Zambezi River with various buildings whose architectural design is a first in Caprivi.
Now that the timber suppliers were upset about the matter and their outstanding payments.
“He (Mugwala) told us to calm down, saying that the issue we were discussing was serious and sensitive”. He said.
They (Timber suppliers) however alleged that, they were immediately paid N$50 000 in cash on the same day after intervening on the matter.
The accused trio secretly bought an expensive timber machine without the knowledge or authorization of the board of directors and started running a private timber company for timber construction.
Asked to hear how true were the allegations from Mr. Chipango proved futile as he dropped his phone after asked to give feedback on the allegations and he was called for the second time and he referred all queries to Mr. Mugwala who refused to give his comments on the phone and gave directions to furnish questions to him which he will respond later, at the time of going for press Mr. Mugwala’s response were still pending.
Efforts to hear from the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Ericah Shafuda who is the Chairperson of the board proved futile as she was out of the country.
Last year this paper booked a face-to-face interview with Ms Shafuda at her office in Windhoek but was later cancelled after she consulted the Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa – Amadhila on the matter, all these are still pending issues that need answers.
According to sources at the site, 4 stars hotels that were on the plan are no longer going to be constructed and currently only concrete bungalows are currently near completion , Including blocks of the ware houses and the administration block which are completed , the construction is on its last phase. So far, the government has injected N$76 million to the project.
Earlier last year , this paper reported similar incidence whereas at the centre stage of this controversy was Mr. Joseph Simataa, a former public relations officer for the Waterfront who claimed that he was forced to resign while his employers said that he had misconduct himself while in the employ of the Waterfront Tourism Park.
Simataa also alleged that management of the Waterfront was practicing tribalism at the project. He claimed that he was unfairly dismissed because he is a Totela from Musanga, not a SWAPO member and is the most educated person in the project because he has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism.
He said the Board and Management of the Waterfront refused to reinstate or pay him “damages and salaries” even after the instructions of his Lawyer Mr. David Muluti. During his employment at the project, he was also denied Housing Allowances, Transport Allowances and Overtime while all other workers received these benefits.
“The Consultant and the Administrator didn’t advertise tenders in newspapers, they just awarded tenders to their friends,” he claimed.
Asked to respond to the host of allegations levelled against the Waterfront Project and at him, Mr. Mugwala refuted the allegations and asked why The Caprivi Vision was following a person who had dismissed himself from work.
“I told him to go and think about it again and he said he is resigning because he is going for further studies at the University of Namibia and demanded all his money the same day as indicated in the letter.”
Mugwala said he had no right to dismiss an employee he did not employ as the Board of Directors had the prerogative to do so.
He admitted that the position of Creditor’s Clerk was indeed advertised and Gloria Siyoka was the only female candidate who passed the interview among men, so the board considered her in terms of affirmative action.
“Use of company properties by employees in need is a provision in the company policy. An employee in need is required to register and sign for the property, the date on which the property is taken away and date of return if damaged somehow, the worker will account for it,” Mugwala said.
On poor qualifications that he is alleged to possess he asked, “What is a qualification? I did not employ myself. Questions about my qualifications or how I qualify for this position should be directed at my employers not me.”
And on accusations that he is a foreigner Mugwala retorted, “I am a Namibian. My mother is from Schuckmansberg and that is where I was born. My father is from Ikaba.I went to Zimbabwe in 1954 and came back in 1972. I grew up in Zimbabwe where I was educated.”
Mr. Mugwala said in his opinion, Mr. Simataa resigned because he realised that he had over stepped his terms of employment with his misconduct. He said Mr. Simataa enjoyed a lot of mercy from management since his conduct was bad.
Other workers, who talked to this paper, all denied allegation of tribalism, corruption and nepotism at the Waterfront Project.
Efforts to hear from the Board Chairperson of the Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park, Erica Shifudah, the Current Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance proved futile as they were lot of postponements in meeting her and she referred all queries to Mr. Mugwala.