The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) is neither shocked nor surprised by the shenanigans unfolding in the SME Bank. According to its mission statement, the SME Bank was established,2012, by the Namibian Government, of course using public funds, to apparently provide superior, well designed, targeted banking products and services to small , medium, micro and informal enterprises that will enable them to start , grow , compete and prosper in a global setting.
Right from the start, RDP had mixed feelings about the true intentions of the establishment of the SME Bank. We know that although the establishment of such a bank is important to any developing country, in our case such a bank we knew would be open to manoeuvre, where SWAPO party elite members and other well connected would convert it into a self-enrichment scheme as is now the case.
After having learned of the appointment of senior managers’ team from beyond Namibian borders, we were not convinced that necessary competences were not locally available to justify the recruitment of foreigners which eventually resulted into nurses and teacher being employed from Zimbabwe. Equally, one wonders that if indeed Banking skills were not locally available why the products of the SME Bank were not accommodated in the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) if Common sense were to dictate that human resource is very scarce in the Country. We know that the economic sharks of Namibia, that is the SWAPO Party elite would not think about those existing institutions such as the Development Bank of Namibia Because that would not give them access to public funds as is the case with the new self-enrichment scheme that is the SME Bank.
RDP is aware that necessary competencies not only to establish but also to grow and run the institution are available here in Namibia. However what the corrupt, dishonest, greedy and self-centred elite members of the SWAPO Party and their foreign friends succeeded doing is to create a fertile ground for their stealing of public funds unhindered. RDP is also wondering whether or not due diligence, not only of shareholders but also of directors and the management team, was properly conducted. And if so, whether the institutions and individuals involved are found to be legal entities with good standing in banking world or not.
It was not even a question of knowledge, skill and or professional competences that the SWAPO Party led government pre-occupied themselves with. They did not bother to safe guard public funds either in terms of recruiting people on merit or people with good understanding of the fiduciary responsibility and avoid appointing people based on political patronage.
Both the Executive and the legislature organs of the state have allowed public resources, running into millions and millions of Namibian Dollars to fall into the hands of unethical, morally corrupt and low integrity so-called SME professionals Bankers. It is an illusion to expect such people to establish, grow and successfully manage public funds as we have seen. Instead they have turned the SME Bank into easy target for their own looting.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. IIpumbu Shiimi, Must be supported and further empowered to deal with this syndicate successfully. RDP understands that the SME Bank directors and probably some managers were found to be unfit to hold executive positions of the SME Bank by the Governor of the Central bank, Mr. IIpumbu Shiimi. Today, the ruling party, SWAPO, has become extremely selfish, self-centred and greedy such that instead of running public affairs based on the dictates of knowledge, skill, expertise and the willingness to do better, they choose patronage and political expediencies.
The problem is clearly greedy, carelessness, incompetency, Corruption and total failure of leadership, management and poor administration of public affairs. What is also becoming clear is that the SME Bank was not established for what is outlined in its mission statement, if it was, there is now a total deviation from the original objectives of empowering the weak and the poor to that of empowering the already empowered and the people who were supposed to be the custodians of these public funds. How does one explain the N$700,000 loan to Frans Kapofi and Esau Mbako, the unknown amount to Milka Mungunda, the N$5 million loan to George Simataa and so on and so forth? If both former and current directors are taking that much, what is left for the poor? The gate keepers have themselves become looters. Exactly, it is this wicked behaviour and attitude of some African leaders that continue to place/maintain/keep the majority of our people under extreme poverty.
The SME Bank supposed to finance and advance loans to the SME sector but the Directors and the management have different and contrary ideas from the main objectives as to why the institution was established in the first place.
Investment in the SME Bank
In our view as RDP, the government of the Republic of Namibia is under obligation to safeguard public funds invested in any institution; we are reliably informed that over N$ 400 million public funds of the people of Namibia were invested in the SME Bank by the Government. These resources were invested with an objective to develop the SME sector that in turn will create the much needed jobs for the majority poor. These funds were not meant to feed the egos of the morally corrupt SWAPO Party elite and RDP is perplexed and indeed very disturbed to see that funds that were meant to uplift the majority poor out of object poverty is now mismanaged and carelessly misused to benefit those in opulence. The economic crisis that has befallen Namibia over the past 20 Years cannot be ignored. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising to observe that more and more Namibians are angry, hungry and frustrated. The ruling party must be reminded that Namibians need leaders who are ready to advance peaceful, just and inclusive society. What has happened at the SME Bank is rightly selfishness and greedy. And those involved must not go unpunished. There can never be peace as long as the majority of the Namibian people are wallowing in the ocean of poverty. The very poverty meant to be partly addressed by the SME Bank.
The SME Bank scandal is so distressful such that public trust and confidence in the current Governance becomes eroded. It is incomprehensible for the Government to invest so much money in the SME Bank just for the selected few to loot. And this is happening while the majority of our people have nothing to eat and some of them are eking a living on the dumpsites. How inconsiderate the ruling party is?
Annual Financial Statements
RDP’s suspicious about the SME Bank is further compounded by the Bank’s failure to submit Annual Financial Audited reports for a very long period of time, since 2012 to 2015. It was only by 2016 that the first Audited report for the SME Bank was eventually submitted. Neither the executive nor the legislature organs of the state took action against the looters. The question is, are these organs of state colluding with the looters or is it a matter of carelessness, incompetency or both?
The so-called Losses of SME Bank.
Since independence, Namibia has become home to criminal companies, groups and individuals. The strategy of establishing companies, like the SME Bank, to swindle public funds from the Government and continuously register so-called losses has become common practice. The swindlers often do away with murder without being held accountable for their actions.
RDP is reliably informed that the SME Bank has incurred N$ 182 Million losses since the Bank opened its doors for business by 2012. And this happened as follows:
a). FY 2012 – N$ 4.3 Mil
b). FY 2013- N$ 37.0 Mil
c). FY 2014 – N$ 69.0 Mil
d). FY 2015 – N$ 72.0 Mil
While the above might be true losses, it was exactly during the same period that Directors of the SME Bank were getting massive loans from the SME Bank that was meant to advance loans to SME sector. The Directors supposedly are the safeguards of the SME Bank public funds. They have the fiduciary obligation to protect the Bank from looters and the public from the exploiters. RDP is calling upon the Executive branch of Government to see to it that all the public funds stolen in the SME bank, The GIPF, The ODC, The Social Security Commission (SSC), the N$14.4 Billion TIPEEG and the Mass Housing Schemes are recovered and the culprits are brought to book.
Together we can do better!