Deputy minister for disability affairs, Alexia Manombe-Ncube has been dragged into a corruption scandal in which she is being accused of approving a suspected illegal appointment of the National Disability Council (NDC) acting director, Melherius Haukambe.
These revelations come after anonymous whistleblowers allegedly wrote to President Hage Geingob a detailed letter narrating how Haukambe was appointed “despite the fact that he does not possess the necessary credentials to occupy such a high position”.
Haukambe refused to comment on the matter when The Villager approached him but he admitted that he was being investigated by the corruption watch-dog.
“I will tell you that I am aware (of) those allegations and where they come from I do not know. Like you correctly said, those people are anonymous. All that I can tell you, as you correctly said, that letter was addressed to the president, it was addressed to the (former) minister of presidential affairs, Honorable Kapofi and also the director the ACC Paulus Noa.”
“All I can tell you is I have so much trust in the ACC fulfilling their mandate. That they are the only one who are entrusted with investigating allegations of corruption. I am busy responding to Anti Corruption and I do not want to say anything that will jeopardise this investigation,” he said.
He then referred this publication to the ACC director, Paulus Noa who said he was not aware of the case.
“That sounds like news to me. It does not ring a bell. Maybe the person just wrote to that office but I don’t think I have received such kind of a complaint. You better find out from other offices. I know I have received sometime (back) some complaints regarding trust and so on but not issues pertaining to this particular director,” he said.
Nevertheless, the whistleblowers dispute Haukambe’s appointment alleging that his highest academic qualification is only standard 10 (Grade 12) and he was just a communication clerk at NamWater.
They allege that he was appointed by the council/board after he convinced them to abort a recruitment process for the Director which was being conducted by Potentia Recruitment Agency and was already at interview stages.
As a result of this unilateral cancellation, the council was charged an amount of about N$ 110, 000.00 in penalties by Potentia, they allege.
Manombe-Ncube is said to have approved the appointment despite the health ministry having refused to authorise his appointment.
“Now Mr. Kapofi can understand why The Organisations of People with Disability were pushing so hard for the Ministry of Health to hand over the Rehabilitation Unit to The Disability Affairs Department. They were being used by Haukambe so that his appointment can be approved.”
“The Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs eventually approved the appointment alone despite the National Disability Council Act (the Act) saying such appointments and all such terms must be done with the approval of the Minister and the Minister responsible for finance. NDC Act 26 of 2004, section 13 (1); (2),” says the letter.
Haufiku was reportedly out of the country when The Villager contacted him last week and he did not respond to questions sent to him by the time of publication.
Meanwhile, Haukambe is said to have again been re-appointed in September 2016 by council members for another 12 months at a council meeting, but this time the appointment was not approved by any Government officials as required by the Act.
It is alleged that his appointment lapsed on the 30th of August 2017, but he is still at the council despite his appointment having ended.
Reads the letter, “Around September 2016 a letter was written to the Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs to approve a change in his remuneration from N$500 000 per annum as per the State Owned Enterprises Governance Council (SOEGC) and approved by NDCN council previously, to N$700 000 budgeted for in 2016/17 financial year budget.”
“However the response from Disability Affairs directed that the Director must be paid as per the Public Service Remunerations regime. This direction resulted in the salary (cost to company) of the Acting Director increasing to around N$850 000 per annum. Even though the letter from the Disability Affairs lacks appropriate authorisation and did not request that the salary be back dated. He coerced the chairperson of the Finance committee Mr. Josef Ndinomupya to instruct the HR department to back date the increase in his salary to the date he started acting at the Council i.e. 1 September 2015. This resulted in an unauthorised and un-budgeted expenditure of about N$ 350, 000, lump-sum.”
It also alleged that an Assistance Allowance of N$750.00 per day was approved by Former Minister of Health and Social Service Dr. Richard Kamwi to be paid to people who render assistance to Council Members with disabilities in 2011, but upon resuming his acting role at the council, he requested the Deputy Minister to approve an increase of this allowance to N$1,500.00 per day.
The request was granted by the Deputy Minister alone despite the Act saying the responsibility to approve Councilors allowance is for the Minister and the Minister responsible for finance, the whistleblowers reveal.
“Mr. Haukambe being a person with (a) physical disability is a beneficiary of such an assistance, therefore an increase in assistance allowance will directly benefit his girlfriend and son, which in our view bears the hallmarks of conflict of interest and corruption,” the letter says.
Examples of these benefits are such as in February 2017 when all staff members of the Council went to Rundu for a week long planning workshop.
It is alleged that Haukambe was accompanied by his girlfriend, a certain Annalisa Karipo whose duty as an assistant was to load and offload the wheel chair on a bakkie when they were travelling to and from the workshop venue.
She is said to have contributed nothing to the meetings’ proceedings as she is not an employee of the Council, but rather sat reading books and magazine the whole day.
She is being accused of benefiting from an S&T Allowance of N$4,254.00, plus an allowance of N$1,500.00 per day bringing the total amount spend on her to N$13, 254.00 for one week.
The whistleblowers claim that some staff members objected to this payment but were instructed to affect the payment by Haukambe.
In another instance of alleged conflict of interest, Haukambe’s son, who is said to go by the name Tjiwa, is said to have benefited from an allowance of N$1 500 per day, totaling N$6 000 in four days for simply dropping him at Nampower Conventional Centre from the 11th to the 14th of April where meetings were being held, before heading to school (UNAM).
Karipo is said to have gotten another payment amounting to N$ 4,500.00 at the insistence of Haukambe despite not have done any job for him in July 2017 whereupon another meeting was held at the Nampower Convention Center for three days.
“The assistants are paid by The Council to render service to the people with disabilities when they are performing council’s duties, not to run errands for them. These are only some of many examples where Mr Haukambe uses his position to benefit himself and his family corruptly.”
“Payments were also made to the girlfriend and the son for meetings that lasted only less than 30 minutes and they get paid N$1,500.00 each time e.g. the meeting at National Youth Service only lasted 30 minutes but the assistant was paid for a full day,” they charge.
It is also alleged that during 2016, Haukambe again wrote to Manombe-Ncube requesting an approval for Retainers and Sitting Allowances to be back-dated from 2014 financial year, which was granted despite her lacking authority in terms of the Act, as well as the fact that the back dating of the fees was refused by Haufiku when the Council was under the Ministry of Health and also by Permanent Secretary Goagoseb of the Office of the President in a letter dated 8th July 2016.
This approval or lack thereof resulted in an expenditure of N$ 216 388 and Haukambe’s share of this amount was N$36,817.58, it has alleged.
Other “alleged” corrupt activities
1. He stopped the investigation on the recruitment case of Tjombumbi which was being conducted by the ACC.
2. Blocking disciplinary actions against his friends (interfering with administration).
3. Demoting employees who do not agree with his actions.
4. Advertising positions for sitting employees (employees who want to hold him accountable for his wrong doings).
5. The Total amount earned by Haukambe and his family through corrupt means equal to about N$ 1,550,142.00.
The Whistleblowers have requested Geingob to have Haukambe investigated for fraud, greed, conflict of interest and corruption, and to pay back the money acquired by him and his family through corrupt means.
They state that all the money paid to him and his family is not properly approved as per the Act.
“A precedence was set by the high court of Namibia in a case SSC vs Kukuri, when former chairman was found to have benefitted unduly by receiving increments that were not properly approved and therefore ordered to pay back,” they said.
They want the Minister of Presidential Affairs to take charge of the affairs at the Council because the Deputy is dancing to Haukambe’s tunes.
They have requested the president to have Manombe-Ncube and the Permanent Secretary charged for contravening the Act as well as undermining the minister or for granting approval where they lack authority to do so.