Zambezi Waterfront Managers Accused of Corruption

By Risco Lumamezi

ACCUSED ZWTP TOP MANAGERS
THREE Top Managers at the multi-million dollar Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park currently under construction in the Caprivi Region have been accused of massive corruption, nepotism and tribalism.Closed sources within ZWTP told Caprivi Vision that the management of Zambezi Waterfront in Katima Mulilo is embezzling public funds of the project.
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.

BACKGROUND

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.

The aggrieved Mr. Simataa told Caprivi Vision that he was forced to resign by Mr. Geoffrey Mugwala, the Chairperson and Project Administrator of the Waterfront Tourism Park, who called him into his office on January 7, 2008 and asked him to form his own marketing company under the pretext that the PR position at the Waterfront would be outsourced. “He gave a business plan and said that he will automatically give a tender for marketing once the Waterfront is operational. He said that the Waterfront will pay me, I told him that I don’t want his idea and why should it be only me to set up a company, if I am qualified and skilled,” said Simataa.However, Simataa in his interview with The Caprivi Vision claimed the whole project was being derailed by massive corruption, irregularities in the awarding of tenders, misuse of public funds and company property such as horse pipes, wheel burrows and the company car for private transportation and shopping errands.
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.

“I was regularly threatened, discriminated (against), victimised by the Project Administrator (Mr. Mugwala) who is the Chairperson of the Waterfront and Chief Clerk Mr. Chipango, because I’m from the Mafwe Tribe.
“They even unfairly dismissed me on 7 January 2008 without a valid reason claiming that I have resigned. But the truth is that I was always threatened to resign and after that, I was dismissed. The Chief Clerk (Mr. Chipango) who happens to be a favourite for the administrator immediately took over the position for the PRO without even advertising the post, this is corruption,” said Simataa.
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.
On his resignation from the Waterfront Project, Mr. Simataa said: “Mugwala forced me to resign in January. He continued victimising, threatening, discriminating me, from this I drafted a small letter, and this draft letter was illegally taken from my office without my knowledge, so that they could get rid of me. I told Mugwala that I did not resign and he said he did not send that small draft. He was told by Chipango to use this small draft so that he could take over my position. The board which always hated me wrote me a letter that they had accepted my so called resignation and I was chased from my office,” said Simataa.
Simataa also accused the Waterfront of using old materials, old zincs and iron posts from the Consultant, Mr. Nadimi’s old building in Rundu, to build the storeroom and pocket the money assigned for this particular purpose.
“The Consultant and the Administrator didn’t advertise tenders in newspapers, they just awarded tenders to their friends,” he claimed.
Other allegations levelled against the Waterfront are tenders for bulk earth work and servicing of the site that were never advertised and in addition when the position of Creditors Clerk was advertised, one candidate passed the interview but since Mugwala and Chipango disliked this person, they instead awarded the post to a second year student from the Polytechnic of Namibia, a Miss Gloria Siyoka although this girl didn’t meet the requirements.
“They left someone with a Degree in Accounting and yet the requirement for the post was a degree or a diploma in Accounting and two years experience in Accounting.”
Simataa called on the government to immediately take action and root out corruption at the project, which in his opinion includes the transportation of Mr. Mugwala’s relatives in a company car by the driver, Mr. Mukena on 03 November 2008 from Grootfontein to Katima Mulilo. He also accused Mr. Mugwala of employing his cousin by the name of Chris Ndumba to be an assistant consultant/site manager.
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.
“He just only wants to use you,” he said adding that Simataa had handed in his letter of resignation to him in his office on February 1, 2008.
“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.
On allegations of nepotism, Mugwala responded that Chris Ndumba was not working with the Waterfront but was working somewhere else.
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.
He said it was not a secret that the Waterfront Project had used old zincs to put up a storeroom because this was a temporal structure, which would be converted into a conference centre. “Why should we use new and expensive zincs on something that will be destroyed in a short time?” He asked.
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 further showed The Caprivi Vision a dismissal letter and attendance register, which showed that Mr. Simataa was absenting himself from work without leave or any other reasons.
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.
Meanwhile, Mr. Simataa has reported the matter to the Anti- Corruption Commission, the Ombudsman, Labour Commissioner and National Society for Human Rights and the Legal Assistance Centre but none has helped him.

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