Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has dismissed speculation suggesting there were secret dealings surrounding the payment of more than N$23 million to the founder of the Kora Awards, Ernest Adjovi. The payment of over N$23 million to controversial Ivorian Adjovi precipitated a firestorm of criticism after Adjovi failed to host the much-hyped Kora Awards, leaving organisers and officials with egg on the face.
Shifeta, who has been bombarded with criticism over the alleged missing millions, says the decision to host the Kora Awards in Namibia was endorsed by government and supported by various stakeholders, and further points out the cooperation agreement for the event to be hosted in Namibia was signed between government and Telecom Mundial. He says Telecom Mundial holds the rights to the Kora Awards as an international event and there was no financial obligation on government. Further, he noted that a service contract in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was entered into between Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and Telecom Mundial for the procurement of a promotional package.
“This contract was signed in good faith from the side of Namibia, as represented by the NTB in the interest of tourism promotion and development. Both of the agreements were cleared by the Office of the Attorney General,” he said.
Further, Shifeta said in the agreement between NTB and Telecom Mundial, NTB procured a promotional package stipulated in US Dollars, amounting to U$1.5 million (equivalent to N$21 million based on the exchange rate of 1USD=N$14.34549 at the time the agreement was signed on December 4, 2015).
Shifeta said fluctuation in the exchange rate resulted in the Rand – to which the Namibian Dollar is linked – depreciating drastically against the US Dollar. As a result, he explained, the amount increased to N$23,5 million (based on the exchange rate of 1USD= N$15.9556 at the time the final payments were done which was between February 2 and 10 this year). The total amount that the NTB paid was N$23,5 million.
Therefore, he said, the payment made to Telecom Mundial was done in compliance with the contractual terms and nothing was done in secret, as the involvement of government and NTB were widely publicised.
He added that the ministry provided clarity over the funds to the Ministry of Finance several weeks ago, as requested, although there are suggestions that the case could be heading to the courts.
“Measures are being taken to ascertain the value of services already provided by Telecom Mundial and that of possible claims as provided for by the contract. From here the matter will be determined by the terms of the contract and applicable law,” said the environment and tourism minister.