Alweendo axes mining commissioner

Staff Writer

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo in a terse media release announced the immediate replacement of Mining Commissioner of 15 years, Erasmus Shivolo, without providing any reason.

Shivolo is replaced by Isabella Chirchir, which the minister says ‘’will execute her new duties with integrity, commitment and professionalism’’.

The axing of Shivolo comes hot on the heels of widespread allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Mines and Energy relating to the issuance of mining licence and a bribe of N$50 million.

The ministry has been rocked by allegations of a mining licence that had been sold to a Chinese benefactor for N$50 million.

The sale is alleged to have benefitted the minister himself, Mining Commissioner, Shivolo and the personal advisor to the minister, Ralph Muyamba.

The allegations were made in a recent widely distributed social media post more following the 24-hour resignation of Muyamba.

Following the revelations, Alweendo called immediately called a media briefing exonerating him from corruption allegations.

He recently assured Parliament that ‘’where corruption takes place at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, it is not sanctioned by anyone – not by me, not by anyone. He or she is doing something that is contrary to the values of the Ministry and must be held to account’’.

The minister at the media briefing said an auditing firm would be appointed to look into the awarding of mining exploration licences by the ministry and that an investigation will be launched if any ministry official accepted the N$50 million bribe.

Explaining to the Parliament in his 20 October ministerial statement about the current process of granting licences, he said, the application is evaluated by the Licensing Evaluation Committee which is a ‘’new feature that we have introduced in an effort to weed out potential wrongdoing’’.

However, he admits that ‘’no process is infallible’’.

He also said that no investigation could be conducted into Muyamba, as he had resigned from the ministry, but that the case will be reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

“When you do an investigation in the public service, you cannot do that if the person is no longer in your employ. Unfortunately, Ralph has resigned and therefore, administratively, you can no longer investigate someone that is not part of you,” Alweendo said.

At this stage it is not clear if the immediate relief from duty of the long-serving Shivolo has anything to do with the findings of the internal investigation.

During the media briefing, Alweendo said, that those found guilty of corruption relating to the N$50-dollar bribe will face consequences.

The terse statement by the minister does not provide any reason for Shivolo’s removal, only thanking him for his service as mining commissioner, not even mentioning his service record.

The social media post alleged that Shivolo received N$2 million dollars from the N$50 million-dollar bribe.

The non-renewal and the transfer of the mining block in question has been under controversy for a while now.

The initial owner before the EPL was dubiously transferred to Karlowa Mining Enterprises claimed to have reported to the matter to the minister, but without any success.

The controversial EPL was finally transferred to Orange River Mining, which belongs to the cousin of Muyamba, who resigned from the ministry in 24 hours. Orange River Mining it is alleged sold the licence to a Chinese company with N$50 million.

Alweendo said that to address potential corrupt practices by ministry officials, a whistleblower box will be establish both for member of the public and ministry officials.

By Observer