Calls continue to mount for Swapo to again clarify its involvement into the Fishrot saga after lawyer Sisa Namandje damning allegations contained in an affidavit presented to the Anti-Corruption Commission that he had made payments to the ruling party from funds allegedly illegally funneled out of Fishcor.
Despite the party having previously denied its involvement, its deafening silence over the recent revelations have raised concern among its rank and file and the official opposition party.
Popular Democratic Movement Secretary General, Manuel Ngaringombe challenged Swapo to address the allegations.
“PDM challenges SWAPO to come clean on Fishrot, and for those who benefitted from the looting, including the President, to do the honourable thing and resign with immediate effect.”
He added, “We also call upon the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to intensify its investigation into fishrot and make more arrests. It has become clear that more people within the SWAPO cabal were involved and directly benefitted from fishrot. We cannot allow criminals and gatekeepers of corruption and looting to walk scot free from their heinous deeds.”
Former Swapo SG and cabinet minister, Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana also weighed in, calling on the ruling party to clarify its involvement and allegations raised.
“As a Swapo member, I want to hear from my leaders. A lot is being said and we are concerned, just like any other Namibian who has read what is being alleged,” said
When quizzed on the party’s silence during this period, she stated, “Perhaps they are going through the records to verify the information which is now circulating in the public.”
Ivula-Ithana, however, sided with SG Sophia Shaningwa view that individual party members could have benefited from the funds but not the party directly.
“It’s still individuals. Who know that the money alleged to have gone to the party really went to the party? The SG invited members to go and look at the Swapo financial records, which do not contain these donations. If it’s not in the record of the party, how do you say it went to the party?”
Quizzed on how the party was managing to fund the construction of its multi-million dollar headquarters, the former SG said the party did not have that kind of money when she left.
“Those kinds of funds were not available then, but maybe the policy changed in between to such an extent that the money was sought somewhere else.”
She added, “When I left less than 10 years ago, we were in the process of fund raising for the party headquarters. People can raise money through various ways. They may have raised money differently, maybe not through the channels that we thought would raise money to build the party headquarters. Only those in the office can explain what really happened.”
Political Analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said that by remaining quiet on recent allegations, the ruling party was allowing the narrative to get out of its hands.
“I don’t think silence will make this problem they are facing disappear. If you see the new information coming out right now, it’s actually contradicting what they told the nation last year at their press conference, where they said it is individuals not Swapo. When you look at the new information, it’s strongly pointing to the party also.”
Political analyst Henning Melber agreed with these sentiments, saying, “The new information based on testimonies by de Klerk and Namandje adds a new dimension to the ongoing demands for accountability of the party and also casts serious doubts on the legitimacy of transactions by Namandje.”
“After all, he has insider knowledge as the lawyer of the party and its president. If the party and those named individually continue to remain silent, it is almost tantamount to an admission of guilt on their part.”
Henning also questioned the lack of transparency during Swapo’s internal investigations into whether individuals from the party received money from Fishrot.
“The party (or rather President Hage Geingob) took a mouth full when promising introspection, which then turned out to be an almost secretive internal matter with no accountability. What is urgently needed is a transparent approach, which does not protect, mislead and cover up. But there might be the problem: this could mean that the top ranks are directly exposed in irregularities and benefits from illegal transactions, or at least having been accomplices by being in knowledge of part of the shady deals.”
Several Swapo party members have thus far been linked to Fishrot in recently leaked affidavits of lawyers Namandje and Meren de Klerk who is currently in South Africa, including Swapo party youth league (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo and Works Deputy Minister Veikko Nekundi.
Nekongo told Windhoek Observer that he has no intentions to step down despite his name being once again linked to the scandal.
“I can’t resign because I never knew that there was Fishrot until it came out. Plus, it wasn’t just Nekongo who was mentioned there, are they also going to resign?”
It alleged received N$65 000 which was deposited into Nekongo’s personal account through de Klerk’s law firm.
“What have I done wrong? Did I steal money from anybody? Was I serving at Fishcor? I am not going to resign. I will remain the Secretary of Swapo party youth league (SPYL) until my term comes to an end and if they want me to re-run, I will do so.”
He further questioned why his name being linked to Fishcor should affect the SPYL.
ACC Director-General told Windhoek Observer that individuals being mentioned in the leaked affidavits that link them to the Fishrot scandal did not necessarily make them suspects.
Attempts to reach Swapo SG Shaningwa and spokesperson Hilma Nicanor for comment proved fruitless.