…minister ‘advised’ to refund some money
Anti-Corruption Commission director Paulus Noa says an ACC investigation could not find anything untoward with the way N$952 000 in subsistence and travel (S&T) allowances were acquired by higher education, technology and innovation minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi for trips undertaken between May and August 2022.
Noa said the ACC’s investigation established that the money was acquired by the ministry’s executive director (ED) at his own initiative and not subject to a directive by the minister.
He said there is no law prohibiting an ED from soliciting funds from other government agencies. However, he said the practice serves as a breeding ground for corruption.
“This practice has to be discouraged as it creates grounds for corruption. In our recommendation we stated that the ED should stop writing such letters to other institutions, and those institutions should also stop providing funding for such trips.”
Noa was speaking during an interview with Desert Radio yesterday, while clarifying the ACC’s pronouncement on Kandjii-Murangi and her personal assistant (PA).
“We felt that there was reasonable ground for us to look into the matter but our investigations could not find any evidence supporting that allegation,” he said.
Noa maintained that the ACC approached relevant officials, including the ED, Alfred van Kent, to give statements under oath in order to ensure that the information provided would be supported by documentary proof.
“The ED confirmed in his statement under oath that it was him who approached the University of Namibia (Unam), Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) to fund the minister’s trips because at the time there was no money in the subsistence allowance subdivision of the ministry.”
Van Kent approached these organisations on condition that the ministry would refund them, Noa added.
“This was confirmed by the heads of those institutions. They also confirmed that the ministry fully refunded their money.”
Noa said the ACC advised – not ordered – Kandjii-Murangi and her PA to account for a portion of the funds as determined by the ministry’s officials.
“When S&T is given and the official returns, calculations are made to match the time of arrival with the time spent on the trip and on the job. As a result, the official might owe the ministry some money or vice versa.”
As such, the two have been advised to repay a collective N$69 000 in S&T. Kandjii-Murangi owes N$46 100 while her PA Lungenesia Uaseuapuani owes N$23 400. They have been given until 30 April to make the repayments.
The ACC’s report also warned all public institutions not to be used as cash cows for S&T allowances.
The NTA paid N$478 800, Unam paid N$310 000, Nust contributed N$140 600 and Unesco paid N$22 800.
These details are contained in an ACC investigation report dated 25 January 2024.
“If not paid there should be a plausible reason why, if there is no plausible reason we will then get involved in the matter,” Noa said.
Affirmative Repositioning movement leader Job Amupanda, however, is adamant that corruption occurred. He cites section 43 of the Anti-Corruption Act, which defines a corrupt practice as when a public official uses his or her office position directly or indirectly to obtain gratification for themselves.
He said the act adds that a public official can also use his or her office for gratification of another person.
“How does Kandjii-Murangi, in all these events, fit the profile of what we are talking about as per the ACC act? Is she a public official? Did she obtain gratification from the action that was taken? Yes.”
He noted that this smacks of “misrepresentation or abuse of office, either by the minister or another person”.
Noa disputed Amupanda’s claims and questioned a refusal by him to participate in the ACC investigation.
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