The Anti-Corruption Commission’s request for Affirmative Repositioning leader, Job Amupanda to offer information about allegations of corruption against the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation hit a brick wall.
Amupanda recently made several accusations on social media, alleging how Minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi had been syphoning off travel and subsistence reimbursements from the Namibian University of Science and Technology, the University of Namibia, the Namibia Training Authority, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Amupanda alleged Kandjii-Murangi had claimed more than N$140,000 from Nust, nearly N$400,000 from the Namibian office of Unesco, and N$300,000 from the NTA.
The ACC on Tuesday said that it has asked Amupanda for a statement about the accusations made against the Minister [Kandjii-Murangi].
“Now he has decided he is not going to give us a statement, nor is he prepared to lead us to a person who could give us information about what he is alleging on social media,” ACC Director General Paulus Noa told The Villager.
According to Noa, the ACC sought Amupanda to see if he had any information that would help the Commission come to a decision about the situation.
The Director General said his organisation does not base its decisions on “limited social media” information.
In light of these accusations, Noa made the observation that receiving payment does not always imply involvement in corruption, even if the payment was made at the request of the administration authority of her Ministry to a different agency.
“We need to have a formal statement at least detailing the claims. Even if there are supporting documents, then they must show that there was corruption involved. Hence, we requested him to provide us with a statement or alternatively refer us to an official, because it is not Amupanda himself who goes to the institutions and obtains the information. Someone within the organisation is providing information to him,” explains Noa.
Amupanda’s phone went unanswered when The Villager reached out to him about declining the ACC’s request.
On Tuesday, the Higher Education Ministry issued a statement clarifying that staff members of political office bearers (POB) may attend events or activities upon invitation or as part of activities related to the Ministry’s mandate.
The Ministry said in a statement that in such cases, the government has three rates, with rate one being used when the government pays all expenses related to the trip, including lodging and subsistence allowance, which includes meals.
“Rate two is used when the inviting institution or government pays accommodation only; and rate three is used when all costs are covered by the inviting institution, which include accommodation, meals, and incidental expenses,” the statement read.
In this case, the Ministry said Kandjii-Murangi had received formal invitations to a number of events both last year and this year that had been fully authorised, approved and sponsored in accordance with government internal procedures.
The Ministry highlighted these occasions included the 60th Independence Celebration of Jamaica and the Conference of Ministers of Education in South Korea.
The Minister reportedly received an invitation to New York from UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences to speak at a side event on the “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Access” in conjunction with the 67th session of the Commission on Women Status.
The Ministry also stated the Minister had received an invitation from the Paris office of UNESCO.
The Ministry said UNESCO’s Paris office covered the expense of her attending these events.
“It is very unfortunate that there have been several allegations made in various newspapers.”
According to the Ministry, the higher institutions Unam, Nust and NTA were requested to help pay for the Minister, and once the monies were made available to the Ministry, the public institutions were refunded proportionally.
However, in the statement, the Ministry makes no mention of the amount that was requested and how much was paid back, or when it was paid back.
“It is required that staff members or POB when returning from an official trip, submit a claim that reflects actual travel times and other unplanned expenses that were incurred,” the Ministry said.
The statement also stated the total S&T received by the Minister [Kandjii-Murangi] for official undertakings can be supplied to any legal institution upon request.
As a result, it concluded that all payments made to Kandjii-Murangi followed internal administrative procedures.
Local media reported on Monday that Kandjii-Murangi made threats in a letter to Amupanda via her lawyer, Clive Kavendjii of Kangueehi & Kavendjii Incorporated.