Namibia: Businessmen Dare Geingob On State Capture
11 October 2017
The Namibian (Windhoek)Namibia: Businessmen Dare Geingob On State Capture
BUSINESSMEN Desmond Amunyela and Lazarus Jacobs have asked their former friend, President Hage Geingob, to confirm or deny claims that they wanted to use him or the state to enrich themselves.
The businessmen, who own Paragon Investments, took offence with a column published this year in one of the weekly newspapers that referred to them as "failed Paragonuptas".
The term Paragonuptas is coined from the company's name, Paragon Investments, and that of the controversial South African-based Gupta family accused of wielding undue influence on president Jacob Zuma.
Media reports said the Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh are seen as masters of a "shadow state", and allegedly influenced the appointment of m inisters in South Africa.
The two Namibian businessmen were close friends of Geingob over the years, but he dumped them a few months before he became President in March 2015.
Amunyela and Jacobs wrote to Geingob in August 2017 through their lawyer, asking whether the President is aware of claims of state capture.
State capture is defined by a report on the World Bank website as efforts of wealthy individuals, groups or private firms to shape laws and rules to their advantage.
"Countries which fall victim to state capture often end up having elites and corporations working in tandem with political leaders to extract rents rather than build and develop the state," the report said.
Geingob's former friends believe that state capture is criminal, and should be reported.
"It is a legal obligation of all people in Namibia, including the President, to report criminal misconduct or attempted criminal misconduct to the appropriate authorities," their lawyer, Kadhila Amoomo, said in the letter.
He asked whether the President was aware of any failed attempts by Amunyela and Jacobs to capture the state or the President.
Amoomo reminded the President that his duty includes protecting and defending the Constitution.
"If the President holds the view that the allegations of attempted state capture levelled against our clients are founded, we hold instructions to request and expect a written response from your office indicating such position," the lawyer wrote.
He said the President should respond in seven days, or else his silence would be considered as an admission to a lack of evidence of state capture.
Although State House did not respond to questions sent two weeks ago, people briefed by Geingob in recent weeks said the President would not respond to the letter.
They said Geingob views his former friends' demands as "poor legal tactic s to draw him into a discussion where he has no involvement," said a person with knowledge of the President's view on this matter.
The run-up to the Swapo congress has also resulted in a propaganda battle among rival camps.
Amunyela, who claimed that he paid for Geingob's trip to the soccer World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and said he would do so again with the Wold Cup in Russia next year, now belongs to a Swapo camp which wants to stop Geingob from being elected party president at next month's congress.
If Geingob wins the party presidency at that congress, he will be guaranteed a chance to qualify as Swapo's candidate for the presidential elections in 2019.
Geingob's supporters said the President has been attacked through anonymous text messages, and by a newspaper owned by Paragon Investments.
Amunyela was also subjected to attacks from similar messages and newspapers seen as supporting the Presid ent.
Amunyela told The Namibian yesterday that claims about them trying to capture the state are unproven and spread "by the President's surrogates", aimed at tarnishing their names and the image of their businesses.
"The President knows that we (Lazarus and I) never asked him for help of any kind in business, or attempted to capture him or the state," he stressed.
Amunyela added: "We are self-made. We dare and challenge anyone with evidence, including the President, that proves the contrary to come forward and present such evidence."
He said there was nothing to benefit from their friendship with Geingob.
"It was never our intention, and will never be. Even if we had ill-intentions at the time, he was in no political or professional position to be of benefit to us in that manner as he was unemployed," Amunyela said.
According to him, it could get messy if they decide to bash other peop le.
Amunyela is running for a posi tion in the party's central committee at the upcoming Swapo congress, and said they would push for their candidates, but support whoever wins at that gathering.
It is not publicly known what led to the fallout between Geingob and his two former friends, except that it was a personal decision by the President.
Officials on the President's side said the relationship was strained after Geingob closed several business deals, such as the Angolan oil deal which was worth N$4 billion per year.
Sources said the businessmen claimed that the President has been sending intermediaries to get back together. However, Geingob's allies said the head of state rejected several approaches from intermediaries.
The Namibian understands that two people tried to set up meetings to reconcile the former friends. One was as recent as last week, a source said.
Another mediator was police Inspector-General Sebastian Nde itunga, who tried to reconcile Geingob and his two former friends earlier this year.
Geingob is said to have rejected Ndeitunga's plan, two people briefed on this matter, said.
Ndeitunga declined to comment, saying the work of the police includes keeping peace in the country.Land Reform Ministry Releases 2016 Resettlement List
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