By Tileni Mongudhi and Mathias Haufiku | 10 June 2020
A N$443 000 payment made to Ndilimani Cultural Troupe’s manager Jesse Nombanza’s vehicle loan in 2017 has been flagged as potential proceeds of the Fishrot scandal.
Ndilimani is Swapo’s music propaganda group that regularly performs at ruling party events and produces election campaigns and general songs.
Now the group’s manager is linked to Namibia’s biggest fishing corruption and money-laundering scheme.
The Namibian understands the N$443 000 was allegedly transferred from the law firm DHC Incorporated’s bank account into a Standard Bank account to settle a vehicle loan payment registered in Nombanza’s name.
Former justice minister Sacky Shanghala’s lawyer Marén de Klerk co-owns DHC Incorporated.
The payment to settle Nombanza’s vehicle loan was made in August – two months before the 2017 Swapo elective congress.
The money was taken from funds subject to investigations by law enforcement agencies, sources say.
Authorities are probing transactions of over N$100 million paid into the DHC Incorporated trust account between 2016 and 2018.
De Klerk allegedly used his law firm and his private company Celax Investments Number One to channel the funds linked to the list of transactions identified by the ACC.
Sources also claim he made certain investments on behalf of Celax Investments Number One in his official capacity, representing DHC Incorporated.
DHC Inc did not respond to questions from The Namibian seeking clarity on the payment.
“Due to the investigations which are still ongoing, no comment can be given, as we are still giving our full cooperation to all relevant institutions and will continue to do so,” Celeste Coetzee, on behalf of the firm, said last week.
Nombanza refused to comment to detailed questions sent to him.
“For now you can publish without my comment as I am still awaiting some information and I do not wish to delay your processes of publishing,” he said last week.
He refused to provide details of the vehicle suspected to have been paid for.
This payment adds another link to Swapo’s involvement in the Fishrot corruption scandal.
De Klerk has been linked to the payment of around N$75 million from the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).
He is currently in South Africa.
The N$75 million includes funds that allegedly financed president Hage Geingob’s Swapo presidential campaign, including the 2017 congress.
Geingob has in the past refused to comment on these allegations.
Swapo executive director Austen Samupwa last week said he could not respond to questions about Nombanza’s dealings.
Samupwa defended Swapo saying he could not find any evidence from the party’s financial records linking the party or its officials to Fishrot.
Ndumba Kamwanyah, a political science lecturer at the University of Namibia, said the party’s reaction to this saga sends mixed messages to voters in the run-up to regional and local authority elections later this year.
He warned that Swapo’s failure to comment on allegations levelled against its top brass increases the doubts of the voters who stayed away in previous elections because of their dissatisfaction with the ruling party.
“They (Swapo) are wishy-washy when it comes to Fishrot . . . Their silence raises public suspicion,” Kamwanyah said.
“Considering all allegations and linkages drawn between the party and Fishrot, the best move would have been to institute an internal probe to test the validity of the accusations,” he said.
The closest Swapo came to addressing the corruption scandal was when the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) issued a media statement last month defending Geingob and bashing the media for apparently targeting the president.
Ndilimani band members fall under Ndilimani Cultural Troupe (Pty) Ltd, which was founded in 1980.
The Namibian reported in 1999 that five founding members said Ndilimani started as a vibrant group of young people who were making music for fun at Lubango in Angola.
They were noticed by Swapo’s then defence secretary Peter Nanyemba.
Ndilimani has faced challenges since its formation, including a breakaway band in 1999.
The Namibian reported that year the original members of Ndilimani, who were imprisoned by Swapo in the 1980s, wanted to form a new musical group.
Some Ndilimani members were allegedly detained between 1984 and 1986 and imprisoned in Lubango, Angola, after being accused of spying.
A LUTA CONTINUA
The group currently consists of 15 members. Ndilimani’s core mandate was to create awareness among freedom fighters and the international community of the suffering and bravery of the Namibian people under the brutal apartheid regime.
But that mandate has been contaminated over the years by leadership battles within the ruling party.
Sources say the band was not spared from warring factions formed during the run-up to the 2017 party congress.
Some members would only perform at President Hage Geingob’s Team Harambee faction gatherings and others for Team Swapo, which consisted of former minister Jerry Ekandjo and others.
Nombanza, an insider said, was allegedly in charge of the group performing for Team Harambee, while lead singer Castro Ileni would orchestrate performances at Team Swapo events.
Ileni was unreachable for comment.
“At the start some of the top guys in the party, who were part of Team Harambee, did not want us to perform for Team Swapo, but some of us could not understand this and opposed it because both Team Swapo and Harambee are Swapo groups. That is how we ended up dividing ourselves to ensure we serve everyone,” said a band member who chose not to be named.
Ndilimani’s manager denied this.
“That is not correct. Ndilimani consists of 15 members, and we were all performing for the team that was campaigning for the president,” Nombanza said.
Another band member, who also declined to be named, said: “One cannot say the entire band benefited. All I know is the colleagues who performed for Team Harambee were boasting how good their S&T [subsistence and travel allowance] was.”