Esau pushes Fishcor back into business

20 Sep 2014 11:30am
LÜDERITZ, 20 SEP (NAMPA) – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau told a media briefing at Lüderitz on Thursday he has no interest in profiting from the Namibian fishing sector.
“I cannot be a referee and a player at the same time,” Esau said.
This comes after a damning report in The Namibian newspaper earlier this week accusing the minister of unlawfully appointing James Hatuikulipi, a distant relative, as Board chairperson of the Fishcor Group; and issuing a 10 000 metric tonne horse mackerel fishing quota to the struggling company. The company only has hake fishing rights.
At the briefing – called to announce the company’s resumption of production – Esau went to great lengths to explain that he had done so to rescue the wholly-owned Government fishing company from a sure death.
Describing himself as “a responsible minister”, Esau said he was only interested in protecting workers’ jobs and ensuring the continued stimulation of the Namibian economy.
“I couldn’t leave that ship to sink,” he told the gathering of media representatives, Government officials and Fishcor management.
In May this year, Esau appointed a new Board of Directors with Hatuikulipi at its head, and Mike Nhgipunya as acting Chief Executive Officer. Nhgipunya was formerly an economist with the Fisheries Ministry. Esau said it was within his capacity as minister to do so and that he also “democratically consulted” widely before appointing people whom he viewed as having the desired competencies. “I then exercised my right as the minister responsible for Fishcor,” he stated.
The minister said that at the time of his intervention, Fishcor subsidiaries Seaflower Whitefish and Seaflower Lobster had experienced two periods of shutdown of around seven months in 2013 and 2014. He said two hake trawler vessels had broken down and the company was in a financial mess.
“To rescue the corporation, in June this year I responded to the request by the new Board of Directors to release the interim hake quota allocated to Fishcor,” the minister explained.
He also allocated a 10 000 metric tonne horse mackerel quota which Fishcor then outsourced. Esau said: “This was done to raise the funds needed to resume operations and to ensure that over 500 people get back to work and the Lüderitz community in particular and the Namibian economy in general are not compromised.”
The remaining members of the newly-appointed Board of Directors at Fishcor are Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries Ulitala Hiveluah, personal assistant to the Fisheries Minister Ndaendamwenyo Sheya, Head of Credit at the Development Bank of Namibia Vivian Groenewald, and Bennett Kangumu – director of the University of Namibia’s campus at Katima Mulilo.