Town council threatens to grab Swapo office over N$1,9m debt

Swapo district office in Oranjemund

The Oranjemund Town Council is threatening to repossess Swapo’s district office due to unpaid municipal bills of around N$1,9 million.

The council is threatening Orange Mouth Services CC with legal action.

Documents show that Orange Mouth Services CC was founded in 2006 by businessman Israel Kalenga and former council chairperson Toivo Auala.

Kalenga says the entity was started to raise funds for the ruling party.

“We thought it best to come up with a project for the party to make money to establish itself . . ,” Kalenga told The Namibian earlier this month.

The entity was subsequently involved in services such as property renovations and management.

In a letter of demand dated 24 March, the council, through its lawyers Ileni Velikoshi Incorporated, said Orange Mouth Services CC has been given several opportunities to make payment.

The law firm in a letter to Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa and seen by The Namibian, said the company’s founders acted under the direction and on behalf of Swapo.

“Our client has rendered services to the Swapo party through its Oranjemund branch and/or the corporation (Orange Mouth), resulting in an outstanding debt of N$1 881 735,55 inclusive of 10% collection commission (as at 25 January 2023) for services provided between June 2021 and 25 January 2023,” Velikoshi wrote.

Despite numerous assurances and arrangements made by the party’s Oranjemund branch to settle the debt, Swapo has failed to do so, Velikoshi said.

The same company took over the operations of the Swartkop hostel and a number of houses at Oranjemund from the mining company to host their employees, which the council will not take over.

The properties were initially managed by the Namibia Mineworkers Investment Holdings Company (Nam-Mic Holdings) and it was decided its regional office would be run locally through the Swapo district office.

“Our client has given us instruction to initiate proceedings against your organisation (Swapo party Oranjemund branch and/or the corporation) to vacate its property at Farm 165 portion 12 (Swartkop hostel),” the council’s lawyers wrote.

The ownership of the company is not clear, but its business registration document indicates the Swapo district office as its business area.

Clive Kavendjii, the former head of the party’s nominee shareholder structure, which was responsible for exercising control over party-linked businesses, does not recall the existence of the company.

“When I was running the business arm of the party, we did not have that company on our files,” he said.

Swapo secretary for economic affairs Bernadette Jagger also claims to have no knowledge of the company’s existence.

Swapo district spokesperson Prudence Likando and others who took office in January claim the same.

“We don’t have detailed information on the formation of this business and how arrears were accumulated, and we don’t have records of such a business in our books,” Likando says.

This is in contrast to Swapo district coordinator Jonathan Engelbrecht acknowledging the arrears on houses and Orange Mouth Services to the town council on 24 April.

In a letter drafted on a Swapo letterhead, Engelbrecht requested an extension to 5 May.

“I would like to inform your office that we managed to discuss and found a solution to the above-mentioned long outstanding payment with our partner,” he wrote.

Engelbrecht did not respond to questions sent to him via WhatsApp, nor did he respond to phone calls.

Oranjemund acting chief executive officer Charles Kakuru declined to comment on the matter, saying Swapo does not have a municipal account with the Oranjemund Town Council.

“However, it is our advice that you engage the Swapo party for any further inquiries related to this question,” he said.

He said the town council, through its debt-collection policy, deals with non-payers effectively.

“Once arrangements are not honoured as agreed, the council . . . hands the client over to debt collectors through its attorneys to take further lawful and necessary steps until the debts have been recovered . . ,” he said.

Kakuru declined to provide copies of council minutes, despite the Local Authorities Act making provision for access to these by the public.

“Kindly take note we do not give copies of minutes of the council just like that. The law does not allow that,” he said.

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