Venaani asked Mbumba to intervene in August 26 audit report release

Stefanus Nashama

McHenry Venaani, leader of the official opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), urged President Nangolo Mbumba to take immediate action to release the forensic audit report conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General of the August 26 Company (Pty) Ltd.

“The citizens of our country have a fundamental right to access information pertinent to the governance of our nation, and the withholding of such crucial documentation undermines the trust and confidence reposed in our democratic institutions,” Venaani stated.

In April, the Auditor-General’s office remained mum on the forensic audit report of August 26.

The audit of the state-owned company started in 2021, following claims that the company failed to account for public funds.

Venaani has made numerous calls to have the state-owned company’s books audited, including calling on the office of the Ombudsman to render a legal opinion.

Members of the public and opposition parties raised criticism and requested that the Office of the Auditor-General provide the forensic audit report.

In a letter dated May 7, Venaani informed Mbumba about a written communication he sent to the director-general of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa, on April 24, this year.

He stated that the communication sought clarification and an investigation into the audited report of August 26’s books, which the Auditor-General’s office kept confidential.

“I wish to emphasise that the PDM has displayed an unwavering commitment to this cause. As far back as 2017, I wrote to the Ombudsman highlighting August 26’s failure to deliver audited financial records to the National Assembly since its inception in 1998, and we threatened to take legal action should the Ombudsman fail to address this matter.

“Furthermore, I raised concerns in October of 2021 when the Minister of Defence, Frans Kapofi, informed the August House that an investigation is underway to ascertain the authenticity of reports of corrupt dealings within August 26,” he stated.

Venaani also suggested that an audit of the company’s books could have resolved any allegations of corrupt practices, adding that his party has long been in the fight for transparency and accountability in government institutions.

According to Venaani, during a meeting between the ACC and the auditor-general, Junias Kandjeke, correspondence revealed that the late President Hage Geingob issued specific directives to the auditor-general’s office.

He stated that the Presidency had issued the directives to investigate the financial activities of the August 26 Holding Company from 2011 to 2021, with a specific focus on addressing their queries.

Noa said that while Kandjeke was tasked with providing findings on certain questions related to the August 26 Holding Company from 2011 to 2021, the assignment did not cover the subsidiary companies.

Noa claims that Kandjeke received no further instructions after the late President Geingob received the assignment’s findings in March 2023.

“The auditor-general advises that questions regarding the findings of the assignment that was given to him may be directed to the Presidency through the Honourable Minister in the National Assembly,” Noa stated.

He suggested that Venaani follow the process as advised by Kandjeke, and only then would the minister in the presidency be summoned by the ACC to explain why the findings were not made public.

Noa added that the August 26 audit falls outside the Auditor-General’s mandate.

He emphasized that the company is audited by auditors appointed by the Board of Directors.

“August 26 Company (Pty) Ltd is audited in terms of the Company Act, by auditors appointed by the Board of Directors. Therefore, the audit of August 26 Company (Pty) Ltd does not fall under the mandate of the Auditor-General,” stressed Noa.

Last year, Venaani wrote letters to Kandjeke and the late President Hage Geingob, calling for the auditing of August 26’s books.

He also questioned the forensic audit report’s status and expressed disappointment with the prolonged delay in its publication.

He thought the Office of the Auditor-General had the completed report at that time.

August 26 is fully owned by the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs on behalf of the government.

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