Zambezi waterfront to host trade fair

The Katima Mulilo Town Council plans to host their annual trade fair at the Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park (ZWTP), despite a case of trespassing opened against them.

The town council is expected to host the 2024 Zambezi Bream Festival and Cultural Expo from 4 to 10 August at the forbidden ZWTP premises.

However, sources familiar with the organisation of the trade fair yesterday informed The Namibian that when the council requested permission to use ZWTP as their venue, chief regional officer Regina Ndopu-Lubinda declined from the get-go.

The sources added that despite Ndopu-Lubinda forbidding them to use ZWTP as their trade fair venue, Katima Mulilo chief executive Raphael Liswaniso decided to send his staff to clean the designated area in preparation for the event.

In light of this, ZWTP supervisor Inonge Siyoka opened a case of trespassing against council staff members on 24 June at the Katima Mulilo Police Station.

Zambezi regional police commissioner Andreas Shilelo confirmed to The Namibian that they are currently investigating the case.

He, however, referred The Namibian to the investigating officer chief inspector, George Mathe, for further details.

According to Mathe, it is alleged that on 17 June, town council employees went to the ZWTP premises with a copy of a permission letter they had written to Ndopu-Lubinda three weeks prior and informed Siyoka that, though they did not receive a response, they came to start cleaning the premises.

He says Siyoka then allegedly informed the council workers that she was not aware of any permission granted to host the trade fair at ZWTP, and she decided to ask Ndopu-Lubinda.

“Upon Siyoka’s query, Ndopu-Lubinda told her that the response of declining to use the ZWTP premises was verbally communicated to the then-acting chief executive, Lilungwe. However, the town council employees allegedly started cleaning despite finding out that they had no permission. Furthermore, Liswaniso also came and demanded the keys to some of the facilities, but Siyoka told him that she did not have permission to give them to him,” Mathe says.

Mathe says that during the process of burning the grass and bushes to clean the premises, some of the lights were burned by the fire.

He says on 25 June, Liswaniso allegedly informed Siyoka that from 28 June, they would not be seeking any permission and they would break all locks to gain access to the premises and facilities.

“The following day, the chief executive and other staff members, when they allegedly found the ZWTP gate locked, broke the padlocks and entered,” he says.

Mathe says no arrest has been made, as police investigations continue.

Efforts to get comments from Ndopu-Lubinda and Liswaniso were unsuccessful, as questions sent to them remained unanswered.

In a poster posted to the Katima Mulilo Town Council social media platforms five days ago, the venue still remains ZWTP.

The multimillion-dollar (ZWTP) has become a white elephant since its closure in 2016 due to maladministration allegations.
ZWTP’s construction cost over N$124 million and additional millions were spent on maintenance and operations over the years.
A report released by the Ombudsman in February this year recommended that the ZWTP be dissolved with immediate effect.

Additionally, the Ombudsman added that the entire ZWTP assets should be transferred to the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre because they already run a successful hospitality business.

These and other recommendations come from the findings of a report following an investigation done by the Ombudsman into the alleged mismanagement of ZWTP.

Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu in 2022 requested the office of the Ombudsman to do preliminary investigations into the allegations of misuse of funds that happened during the construction of the park.

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