In 2017, Deputy Minister of Works and Transport Veikko Nekundi received N$20,000 from a law firm being investigated for receiving and transferring money connected with the Fishrot scandal. And yet, in 2020 he is sworn in as a Member of Parliament and appointed to a deputy minister’s portfolio. We wonder what vetting procedures are undertaken when people are selected for high office.
An appointment to serve the country as a Member of Parliament, minister or deputy minister must only be extended to those who hold the highest level of integrity, honesty and love of nation. But, that is not enough. They must understand the issues and be able to comprehend the dynamics and scope of their office. Most of all, they must not have secret skeletons in their closets that would bring disrepute on the appointing authority. That is what security a service vetting is for. Did Nekundi undergo this?
We assume that before someone is accepted as a deputy minister, there is a background check done. We assume there was a conversation or interview with the president. In this discussion, prior to Nekundi’s appointment was he asked about his involvement in Fishrot or other scandals? Potential appointees with a chequered past must reveal such landmines to the appointing authority. The decision on whether they are still invited to high office must take that that past into account.
In his conversation with the appointing authority, we can only assume that Nekundi lied to the president about his financial involvement with Fishrot money OR he told the story of his involvement and it was deemed to be acceptable.
Either scenario does not speak well of the president’s ability to appoint people to high office that are not caught out in illegal schemes and adventures.
We take note that Honourable Bernadus Swartbooi, when he was a deputy minister was publicly ordered to apologize for statements made to his (then) Minister Utoni Nujoma. Since he did not, he was dismissed. Nekundi, admits receiving money linked to the Fishrot debacle and yet he still sits as an ‘Honourable’ with not a public word from on high asking for an explanation, apology or resignation. Where is the balance?
Nekundi’s receipt of Fishrot money is made worse by the weak explanation he offered to the media.
The Namibian newspaper reported that N$20,000 was paid from the trust account of DHC Incorporated (law firm linked to receiving Fishrot money) to Nekundi on 11 September 2017.
The wobbly Nekundi is reported that have said that the money was paid into his account, but he has no recollection as to why. We wonder, how did he record that income on his taxes three years ago?
He went on to say that he was still baffled by how the money landed in his bank account. We would pose to him the follow-up question about whether he was baffled when he spent that money. Any reasonable person receiving money in their accounts that doesn’t belong there, would track the sender and either send it back or find out why.
To dig his credibility hole even deeper, he said the money “may have been paid to his bank account as a contribution to many of his charitable and social responsibility initiatives aimed at helping the needy.” Really? Did he take that mysterious N$20,000 and contribute it to the Food Bank, a church benevolent fund, the Red Cross, or vulnerable children and orphans?
The president constantly queries why he is always peppered with questions implying that he is corrupt. This new revelation involving Nekundi answers that question.
His name is now added to a very long line of Geingob insiders, friends and appointees wrapped up in nefarious, pocket-lining schemes that ended up in state money being diverted for private use. There is an old adage, ‘if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.’ The people who you choose to be around, reflect you.
Geingob is also president of Swapo. There are many tendrils reaching towards the party as a beneficiary of Fishrot funds. And yet, Swapo spokesperson, Hilma Nicanor refuses to answer questions about Swapo benefitting from Fishrot funds.
Mike Nghipunya, the fishrot-accused suspended CEO of Fishcor, testified that he signed off payments for Swapo after disgraced former minister Esau, authorized it. The world listened to the video where Esau asked for substantial funds for Swapo to help with the elections. And yet, Nicanor believes she has no obligation to explain this to anyone. Is this the official party line?
She insists that Swapo should not be painted in a bad light and called corrupt when they “are telling the truth.” We would ask, what truth are they telling? Both she and the president are declining to discuss the subject. Is the mature, professional Swapo party dithering on this issue? The message that sends is not a good one.
Nekundi is the latest litmus test of Geingob’s ability to select public servants that have integrity. Both Geingob and Nekundi appear to have failed the test.