Swapo denies headquarters construction challenges

SWAPO secretary general Sophia Shaningwa on Thursday said the construction of the party’s national headquarters is nearing completion.

Shaningwa was reacting to a report published in The Namibian last week, headlined ‘Swapo headquarters project stopped over unpaid N$100m’.

“The construction of the Swapo party national headquarters is nearing its completion, and work to that effect is in full swing,” she said without mentioning when the building would be completed.

Shaningwa’s statement contradicts a Swapo politburo report tabled at the central committee meeting this month, which confirmed that the party is struggling to finance the headquarters project. Shaningwa is a member of the politburo. The report said “the party is grappling with a precarious financial position in respect of the finalisation of its headquarters building”.

The Namibian said Unik Construction Engineering, the company that won the tender in 2019 to construct the building, downed tools last year after Swapo failed to pay its bills of over N$100 million.

Shaningwa was given the chance to comment on the report since 12 March, but did not.

In her statement released from Katima Mulilo on Thursday, Shaningwa said the headline was sensational and misleading.

“We are not aware of any problems with regards to the construction of the Swapo party national headquarters, and our contractor has not brought forth any complaints regarding any breach of the contractual agreement on the side of the Swapo party,” she said.

Unik Construction Engineering employees have confirmed that construction work has stopped and that only minor work resumed on 6 December 2023. Unik, a well-known player in Namibia’s construction industry through government tenders, was reluctant to go public due to fear of victimisation, according to sources. In its report, The Namibian said the ruling party used one of its entities to take out a loan at a local bank, estimated between N$110 million and N$180 million, to settle its debt to Unik Construction Engineering towards the end of last year.

Part of the loan was allegedly used to pay Unik. “Swapo is a juristic body that is fully compliant with the laws of the Republic of Namibia, including honouring its contractual obligations, as safeguarded by the government it leads,” Shaningwa said. The project’s cost has escalated from N$900 million to over N$1 billion.

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