Tempers flare in parly over fuel-storage saga developments

The exoneration of the National Planning Commission permanent secretary, Leevi Hungamo, from the fuel storage saga torched a storm in parliament this week as tempers flared over whose head should roll.

Rising on a point of order, official opposition president McHenry Venaani said the fact that Hungamo is now off the hook with no one having been found guilty yet, means that Namibians have to pay heavily for corruption in the country.

“Rhetoric must be measured by action. This money has been taken by the powerful and we are saying we are improving the lives of Namibians,” he said.

Land reform minister Utoni Nujoma chipped in to silence Venaani stamping that there was no need to discuss issues that were still under investigation. 

Venaani shot back, refusing to back down, “I am one person who has remained consistent in this house. My friend, you are stealing people’s money, how can N$1 billion be lost at the oil storage facility just like that?”

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila rose to remind Venaani that Namibia had institutions and the courts, which could not be told at what pace they should handle matters and what kind of rulings to put.

A heated exchange of words erupted which shook the parly as the Prime Minister demanded her right to be recognised and respected while raising her points, “I am standing on a point of order. You are violating the rules of this house.”

Venaani had non of it, and accused the ruling party members of defending corruption while telling the P.M to sit down who in tern accused him of taking advantage of raising issues in the house knowing that he would not be asked to provide evidence. 

Speaker of parliament, Peter Katjavivi, tried in vain to calm down the tantrum, “We can’t continue like this, there are institutions, we are getting stuck on accusations and counter accusations.”

Yet the Prime Minister bore on Venaani, asking him to go and consult the institutions investigating the matter. 

“It’s not true that N$1 billion went missing. The GIPF case is also in the hands of the Prosecutor General. The executive can not tell them what to do,” she said.

The Speaker asked Venaani to take his stand and conclude his motion, but he was adamant.

“I will not conclude. You won’t bully me,” he said in a visible show of rage, “Why should I conclude if I just started? Let the rules of this house prevail. I know that a lot of issues are emotional but do not behave the way you are behaving. It’s wrong for the country,” he said.

Venaani, seemingly calmed down, then tore into the fisheries ministry, and blamed it for sending jobs abroad and giving them to Spaniards while a majority of Namibians were left in the cold. 

Fisheries minister Bernard Esau interjected asking him to substantiate his claims.

“You can harass your congress but not me,” Venaani shot back, “There are fishing companies that take our fish unprocessed to their countries. We are even printing number plates in S.A. Government should create an environment for business to flourish.”

Esau stood his ground, “I was in Spain, I went to Vigo where our fish is processed. Spain has capital intensive industries, ours is labour intensive, do not mislead the people.”

Venaani proposed for the mooting of a recovery plan to create jobs in this economic environment.

“Why is Ethiopia growing from 9 to 10 percent, what are they doing? We should benchmark our economy with nations that are making progress. You people are emotionally charged. Farms need to be de-bushed to enable farming and create employment for our young people,” he said.

As Nujoma stood up to interrupt him, Venaani said, “You are wearing a watch of N$500 000 and you say you are standing for the poor.”

Nujoma said his watch was just ordinary and he had bought it in Beijing. 

As the two tussled, deputy minister of higher education, training and innovation, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo tried to reason, “I am concerned about the decorum in this house. No two people should stand and talk at the same time. It creates chaos. The language we use; we do not use words like lies. Really, I am concerned.”

At that moment, DTA Parliamentarian Vipuakuye Muharukua cut her short, saying that there was no rule that supported hypocrisy in the house.

“It’s an observation that I have made that when corruption is mentioned, Esau, Nujoma and the Prime Minister want to jump out of the house,” he said pointing fingers which sent the house flaring up in chaos.

Presidential Affairs minister, Frans Kapofi, did not take the accusations lightly and stood up to caution and advise Muharukua against accusing members of the house of being corrupt.

“What is that? You point to the honourable members that they condone corruption. It’s not parliamentary to say so, and you are a young man, is that how you want to grow?” said Kapofi with a calm cautioning sharp voice. 

Muharukua agreed to withdraw his statement but he had touched the Prime Minister’s raw nerve, and she sternly labelled the allegation as unfair.

"I am a person of integrity. It was unfair my brother to say that I can defend corruption,” she tersely stated.

However, Muharukua asked for the execution of a study to provide empirical evidence that shows how much corruption had impacted the fiscus.