By Sakeus Iikela and Shinovene Immanuel | 23 May 2019
The N$730 million is almost double the N$400 million estimated cost last year.
The party wants to transform its headquarters, opposite the Katutura Intermediate Hospital along Independence Avenue in Windhoek, into a modern office complex. Swapo has been secretive about the critical details of the transaction. Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa has ignored detailed questions sent to her last week.
Two politburo members, however, confirmed to The Namibian this week that the contract was awarded to Unik Construction Engineering for around N$730 million.
The Namibian understands that the decision to pick Unik Construction Engineering was a major U-turn after the same contract was initially awarded to a joint venture between another Chinese company New Era Investment (Pty) Ltd and Guinas Investment.
The Swapo politburo is a 24-member body responsible for, among other things, implementing high-level party decisions.
Unik Construction is a Chinese firm that won the N$1 billion tender to construct the road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
Guinas Investment is a secretive Swapo-owned company which had operated in the shadows for decades before a board squabble among party operatives spilt their affairs into the public eye last year.
The ruling party advertised the tender last year after The Namibian exposed how some party operatives were positioning themselves to benefit from this tender.
Sources said eight bids were received for this tender last year, but all the firms were Chinese-dominated.
New Era Investment, sources said, was initially picked by the party because it submitted the lowest bid, and had partnered with a party company.
Party officials said New Era and Guinas Investment were given a ‚Äúprovisional award letter‚Äù earlier this year, but two weeks ago, Swapo cancelled that award after the company allegedly changed the terms of the contract.
Sources said the party subsequently picked another Chinese firm, Unik Construction Engineering, which was reportedly the second-cheapest.
Its unclear as to where the party would get the N$730 million, and how long it will pay back the money.
Sources claimed that the Chinese government will provide the money to kick-start the project because the ruling party does not have it.
One of the leaked designs viewed by The Namibian last year shows a proposed 10-floor building, including a basement and a shopping mall on land measuring 14¬†000 square metres.
The design also includes a 170-car parking lot.
Shaningwa hinted that the building would consist of eight floors, and accommodate the office of founding president Sam Nujoma, the office of current president Hage Geingob, and the office of their veterans affairs, amongst others.
New Era Investment declined to comment.
The party has been secretive about this transaction, amid public statements by president Geingob that the party will be more transparent in its dealings.
Since taking over in December 2017, Shaningwa has presided over a party that continues to be more secretive, unlike the two previous secretary generals who were easily accessible for media questions.
She did not answer questions on whether the Chinese government, through the Communist Party, will fund the proposed party headquarters.
A source said the partys politburo is likely to publicly pronounce itself on the matter in a week or so.
Swapos executive director, Austin Samupwa, also failed to answer questions sent to him.
This tender has been controversial since Shaningwa announced in February last year that the party would start constructing new offices by July 2018. At the time, the value of the project was estimated at N$400 million.
The plans were so advanced that Shaningwa previously admitted that a firm, Jack Mutua Architects, had been picked to design the new party headquarters.
The architects, however, came under scrutiny after The Namibian reported in April last year that the firm was not only picked by Shaningwa to design the new headquarters, but it also recommended a company owned by the secretary generals brother for another office tender. Jack Mutua Architects has denied any wrongdoing.
The party roped in finance minister Calle Schlettwein to work with Shaningwa to ensure that the contract was awarded in a transparent manner.