Andrew Kathindi

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General, Paulus Noa says that backlash over the transfer of its Executive Director, Hannu Shipena, is misplaced. This week’s surprise reassignment is the prerogative of the appointing authority says Noa. It has nothing to do with the substantive work of the corruption watchdog.

Secretary to the Cabinet, George Simataa announced yesterday the appointment of new Executive Directors and the transfer of others to new posts. Those involved included Tylvas Shilongo from the Namibia Central Intelligence Service who was appointed Executive Director of the ACC, replacing Shipena.

The decision was met with criticism by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader, McHenry Venaani. He stated that, “We object to the transfer of Hanu Shipena to be replaced by a spy securocrat at the ACC. The ACC ED cannot be at the behest of the state. They must function without interference. The state cannot capture Anti-Corruption Commission.”

He added, “Hage Geingob, I’m watching your shenanigans. I’m consulting my leadership on the possible effective route to stop these nonsensical theatrics of state capture of ACC. Currently in the regions but surely, I will inform the nation.”

The transfer has come under scrutiny because of its timing. It has taken place during a crucial moment when the ACC is leading investigations into the Fishrot saga.

“That’s a total misconception. The Executive Directors has virtually nothing to do with investigations. They don’t have access to the dockets. Dockets are handled by investigators. He (Shipena) did not have any knowledge about this matter, nor will Shilongo who is coming in, because it’s not his baby. Shipena wasn’t involved and neither will Shilongo. He knows virtually nothing about Fishrot,” Noa told Windhoek Observer.

The ACC head said that the only time the Executive Director has anything to do with investigations, is when officers go out on assignment and need allowance. The ED processes these funds.

“The Executive Director is responsible purely for administrative and financial affairs of the institution. He/she does not sit on any committees that take decisions on who should be investigated, because that is not their line of responsibility,” he said.

“Since the ACC is a public institution, we are prepared to work with any person selected by the appointing authority for that portfolio. The appointments and transfers are done on merits. We welcome our new Executive Director. At the same time, we wish Mr Shipena great success in his new assignment. He is a committed administrator. I have no doubt that the National Council of Higher Education will benefit from his rich expertise and skills.”

Shipena’s transfer comes after he recently came under fire from Finance minister, Iipumbu Shiimi. Shiimi did not agree with Shipena’s statements highlighting a shortfall in the 2020/21 ACC funding budget, posted on his social media page. This happened a week before his transfer.

“Tate Hanu, like I told Tate Noah few weeks ago, problems are not solved in the media. Please approach us if you really have a problem of funds. Both you and Tate Noah know me well and have my mobile number, please give me a call,” the Finance Minister said.

Shipena, who was appointed as Executive Director of the ACC in 2016 after serving as deputy, took exception with the corruption fighting unit’s allocation of N$61.6 million out of a requested N$70.2 million for the 2020/21 financial year.

The transfer of Shipena is concurrent with changes made by Inspector General, Sebastian Ndeitunga at Nampol. The police leader was criticized over his controversial decision to move the head of the crime’s investigations unit, Nelius Becker to forensics.

Becker had led the arrests of key figures implicated in the Fishrot scandal. This included arresting ex-ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhard Esau.

Becker was poached from the ACC by Ndeitunga to lead investigations at Nampol.