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Opposition nails central bank for SME Bank fracas

Opposition nails central bank for SME Bank fracas

By Nico Smit MP – It is disappointing (though unsurprising) and speaks volumes that despite the direct involvement of the Secretary to Cabinet in this fracas, the Government and Cabinet have remained completely numb on this matter and have proceeded as if nothing untoward has happened.

It is abundantly clear that my earlier warning fell on deaf ears.

That being said, I trust this matter has now reached the stage where the Bank of Namibia has shown that it is incapable (for whatever reason) of properly handling this matter.

It is completely unacceptable that the Bank of Namibia has put itself in a position where it may be forced to back track on its previous decision. It is unthinkable that a person of the seniority of the Governor of the Bank of Namibia has taken decisions with such far-reaching consequences without first procuring legal advice and ensuring that any action taken is in line with the relevant laws.

Mistakes of this nature not only see to it that those responsible get off scot free, but more often than not improperly taken decisions and measures end up in Government having to pay the legal costs of the other party.

Furthermore, it is unthinkable that the Governor or any other head of a public institution operates as an island, thus one must also question the effectiveness of the chains of command in place. Are these costly decisions taken by individuals or do they do so collectively?

It is unthinkable that entire public institutions consisting of expensively assembled legal departments and with access to the Office of the Attorney General continually make the same legal missteps. The pattern suggests that either those rendering the advice are not abreast with the law or alternatively, those being advised ignore the advice of the legal experts and take extra-judicial measures.

From the inept handling of the Social Security saga to the erroneous advice by the Attorney General to settle the Airport saga out of court, it is truly remarkable that time and again the Government’s legal advisors continue to put the Government in a position where it almost inevitably loses every second case.

One can not but question the wisdom of those involved and the procedures followed in arriving at these very costly decisions.

The pattern of disregard of laws is further evidenced by the amount of Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who have been permitted to work at the SME Bank without valid work permits. Or alternatively, have been granted work permits for work where there are unemployed Namibian nationals who could just easily have done the same work. It is wholly unacceptable that at a time when unemployment in Namibia is a serious national concern, foreign nationals are being granted work permits to do work that unemployed Namibians could be doing. The DTA of Namibia categorically demands that all foreign nationals without valid work permits at the SME Bank be immediately deported back to their home countries.

The DTA of Namibia reiterates that it is cardinal that the Minister of Finance and Cabinet immediately intervene and assist the Bank of Namibia to see to it that those responsible are held to account. Continued silence and inaction by Cabinet would only confirm that ranks have been closed around the politically-connected and the public must accept that the money has disappeared and nobody will be held to account.

Commentary by Hon. Nico Smit (MP), Treasurer General – The DTA of Namibia

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