Rose-Mary Haufiku

Former Defence and Veteran Affairs Minister, Peter Vilho, has been withdrawn as a Member of Parliament (MP) by President Hage Geingob as a presidential nominee.

The withdrawal of Vilho comes after Geingob on Thursday wrote a letter to Parliament informing it of his decision. The development comes after Vilho resigned his position as Defence Minister on Tuesday after an afternoon-long meeting with the President, after having been summoned.

National Assembly Spokesperson, David Nahogandja, confirmed the development, stating that Parliament had received the letter informing it of the President’s decision.

The withdrawal of Vilho creates room for the President to appoint a replacement in due course, as Vilho was among the eight parliamentarians, without voting rights, appointed by the Geingob.

Vilho, a retired rear admiral and former commander of the Namibian Navy, served as Defence Minister and MP for a year and a month, after being appointed by Geingob in March 2020.

Vilho resigned amid allegations of illicit proceeds in an undeclared Hong Kong bank account that is believed to be linked to an N$ 1.8 billion arms tender for Namibian government for over ten years.

Windhoek Mayor, Job Amupanda, accused Vilho of using his position at the Defence Ministry to allegedly siphon funds from the Ministry’s commercial entity, August 26.

According to the Windhoek Mayor, the Defence Ministry bought naval ships and military uniforms from Brazilian companies at inflated prices, and without following tender procedures during Vilho’s term as Executive Director of the ministry.

Amupanda also filed a complaint with the Public Accounts and Auditor’s Board (PAAB), and alleged that August 26, on Vilho’s instructions, transferred N$200 million from the Defence Ministry account without approval from Treasury, but was not flagged by the company’s former auditors, PwC. PAAB confirmed to Windhoek Observer that it was investigating the matter.

Vilho became the fourth minister in President Geingob’s presidency to resign from his post after becoming embroiled in corruption scandals. Former Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, in 2019 resigned from her position as minister after she was found by the High Court to be guilty of corruptly using her position as Governor of Hardap to change a list of housing beneficiaries in Mariental.

Former ministers of Justice, and Fisheries and Marine Resources, Sacky Shangala and Bernard Esau respectively, also resigned after their alleged involvement in the fishrot scandal was brought to light.