By: Justicia Shipena and Julia Heita
Questions confronted the leadership of the #ShutItAllDown movement regarding the US$5 000 grant awarded to the movement following the October 2020 protest.
The movement’s first commemoration of the #ShutItAllDown protest failed to take off earlier this month amidst a hunt for the missing funds.
At the centre of the scandal are reports that activist Lebbeus Nghidimondjila Hashikutuva, who was at the forefront of the protest, has failed to account for the missing money.
According to a report signed by the movement’s delegation, without official names, Hashikutuva officially applied for the grant on behalf of the movement in February this year.
The report alleges that Hashikutuva was discrete with the progress and updates on the application.
“Until 4 October, we were under the impression that there was a delay in the funds being expedited and not that it had already been processed,” the report reads.
“The delegation is still uncertain about where the funds are, nor can we locate any banking details.”
It is said that Hashikutuva was informed of the payment on 03 June this year.
“He had not communicated with the team on this, nor has he mentioned opening a temporary bank account to retrieve the funds,” the delegation said in the report.
The delegation has also come to say Hashikutuva was inactive from 14 May and the end of July and only made contact via email.
“On the first meeting convened, Nghidimondjila did not communicate on the payment which was already made, led the team to believe that we had urgent documents to submit. Meanwhile, he had already opened a ‘temp’ account and had received the funds.”
According to them, they have not received a bank confirmation letter and still await Hashikutuva’s response.
The Villager contacted Hashikutuva through his brother Likius Hashikutuva, who stated, “He does not have a phone right now, I’m at work, but you can speak to him after five.”
When contacted by The Villager regarding this report, a human rights activist at the forefront of the #ShutItAllDown protest, Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe, refused to comment.
“I cannot comment on any matter regarding #ShutItAllDown. I am busy, and I am even in a meeting,” she shouted.
The Villager also reached out to Bertha Tobias, who was part of the team that represented the movement in a behind-closed-doors meeting at State House, but her phone went unanswered and later switched off.
Chairperson of the Children’s Parliament, Rivaldo Kavanga, said the current developments of the #ShutItAllDown strain the image of the youth in the country.
“Already seeing the cases of corruption and only finding out that our young people have done something like this and looking what the money was meant for is sad,” he said.
Kavanga said it questions whether the youth are indeed leaders in themselves.
“While we advocate for Sacky Shanghala to be arrested and held accountable. What about us? Have we done an introspection on how are we not different from them?”
With the #ShutItAllDown protest going international last year, Kavanga said it comes back to Namibia as a whole.
“This was an international award that we won from the AU. It speaks volumes. Having him at the forefront of representing us and this is what how he represented us is sad. This backfired and pulls us back ten times,” he said.
He further added that this might lead to people shying away about coming out regarding gender-based violence assaults.
“They might question is there help. Are we as the young people going to help each other when the slightest fringe of money takes us away from what we are advocating for?”
Naledi Kunene, one of 25 protestors arrested at Zoo Park during the march last year, said she is very disappointed by Hashikutuva’s actions.
Kunene was arrested and thrown into a police vehicle during the last year with no air ventilation causing her an anxiety attack due to claustrophobia.
Kunene said Hashikutuva must be found and punished for his actions.
“I’m honestly triggered, and Lebbeus should be found and punished. He took away from the course. These funds would have been used for so many things or programs that would be running till now,” she said.
Kunene also questioned who the leaders of the movement were and why Hashikutuva was responsible for this grant.
“Just because Lebbeus works for the Office of First Lady, people automatically trusted him, which is not fair.”
Presidential advisor on youth matters, Daisry Mathias, said the development was a blight on the movement. “A blight to the movement…and a stain, not only on the culprit, but on young capacity in general. Integrity & accountability are expected at all levels of leadership & society. If reports are true, I call on Nghidimondjila to pay back the embezzled monies.”