Kabila’s secret trip to Namibia – the Namibian
• JOHN GROBLER and SHINOVENE IMMANUEL
FORMER President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila visited Namibia last month in his private capacity, as part of a trip that included meetings with former President Sam Nujoma and then the President through interim Nangolo Mbumba.
Kabila also met businessman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun and several other Namibian power actors.
“Former President Joseph Kabila Kabange has visited Namibia in a private capacity, and there is nothing untoward about this visit which deserves special comment from the presidency,” State spokesman said this week. House, Alfredo Hengari.
The Namibian established that Kabila and 28 security guards in 10 vehicles entered the country in Oranjemund from Cape Town, South Africa on November 6 and spent two weeks in Namibia.
Kabila’s trip was undertaken as a global media investigation finalized a briefing on how between N $ 2.2 billion and $ 3.6 billion was embezzled from the DRC during his last term.
Kabila dismissed reports from 18 international media as “unfounded accusations”.
The Namibian presidency said the former DRC leader also met with Mbumba in the absence of President Hage Geingob, who was attending the 2021 United Nations climate change conference in Scotland.
People familiar with the matter said the meeting between Nujoma and Kabila came during a telephone conversation between Geingob and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi last week.
Tshisekedi would have questioned Kabila’s trip to Namibia.
Kabila, his family and associates are the subject of a global investigation, known as the “Congo Hold-Up”, which reveals a pattern of seemingly corrupt transactions involving the former president’s inner circle and BGFIBank, the largest private bank in Central Africa.
The Namibian, as a member of the international media group, explained last Friday how Samaki Fishing Enterprises, a little-known Namibian company, received N $ 516 million from a DRC frozen food company linked to Kabila between 2013 and 2017.
Samaki Fishing Enterprises, run by businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun and her husband, Haddis Tilahun, received the money in a series of payments from 2013 to 2017.
The payments represented nearly a quarter of at least N $ 2.2 billion embezzled from the DRC treasury through a network of businesses linked to Kabila and his entourage, bank records show.
TRIP TO NAMIBIA
Kabila traveled to several African countries via a private convoy a few weeks before the leak was published in various media around the world.
Hengari confirmed that Kabila was in Namibia last month, but declined to comment on Kabila’s meeting in Terrace Bay with Nujoma, which dragged Namibia into the DRC war in 1998.
“President Kabila’s meeting with the founding president is routine and you are free to inquire with the office of the founding president about the content of their meeting,” Hengari said.
Questions sent to Paul Shipale, Nujoma’s senior special assistant, were not answered.
Meanwhile, Hengari also confirmed that Tshisekedi had a phone conversation last week with Geingob.
“What they discussed over the phone is a matter between two heads of state,” he said.
Namibia maintains strong bilateral relations with the DRC, he said, “and our consultations are continuing on issues that consolidate our partnership in several sectors.”
Tshisekedi is currently President of the African Union.
Details on the DRC and Namibia come as the two countries continue to negotiate Namibia’s sale of a 27,300 tonne horse mackerel quota to the DRC for N $ 84 million.
The DRC has so far failed to capture this quota.
Two weeks ago, the DRC dispatched its Minister of National Economy, Jean-Marie Kalumba Yuma, to Namibia to, among other things, deliver a letter intended for Geingob from Tshisekedi.
Hengari said State House never disclosed the content of any communication from one head of state to another to the media.
“But it is incorrect to say that the letter had ulterior motives. For the sake of transparency, we can inform you that the letter concerned the extension of the fishing quota which is due to expire during this fishing season, ”he said.
Last week’s article was about a business called Samaki Fishing Enterprises, run by Namundjebo-Tilahun and her husband, which received money from the DRC in a series of payments from 2013 to 2017.
Namundjebo-Tilahun, through his attorneys, at first categorically denied knowing anything about Samaki Fishing.
His company United Africa Group (UAG) subsequently confirmed the sale of fish to the DRC.
Namundjebo-Tilahun is close to former presidents Nujoma and Kabila, and the couple have been appointed honorary consuls of the DRC, allowing them to travel on diplomatic passports.
They now have diplomatic license plates for BMW vehicles, a source said.
The DRC’s payments coincided with a frenzy of building purchases in Windhoek by the Tilahuns’ company.
The Tilahun family trust deed, drawn up in 2015, shows that the portfolio 100% owned by UAG Property Management included the former FNB headquarters in Windhoek, the adjoining 10-story city center complex and the former Kaiserkrone mini-complex.
But Freedom Plaza is the jewel in the crown, comprising the Hilton International hotel, the budget Hilton Gardens and Windhoek’s most fashionable address, 1990 Freedom Plaza.
Freedom Plaza also attracted direct and indirect beneficiaries of the Fishrot program, who owned luxury apartments and penthouses there, according to a review of the building’s 133 cross-section titles.
THE VILLA OF KABILA
Kabila is said to own several residential properties in Namibia, including a luxurious 36 hectare hilltop estate in Brakwater, located about three kilometers north of Katutura, which Namundjebo-Tilahun personally managed on behalf of Joseph Kabila since 2013, he has was created .
The sprawling complex, surrounded by a two-kilometer-long wall, consists of, among other things, a large villa, an adjoining heated indoor pool, an underground wine cellar and three houses.
Joseph Kabila would have inherited the property from his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, assassinated on January 16, 2001.
A neighbor, who prefers not to be named, says Kabila’s father bought the property from Windhoek businessman Klaus Nipko in 1999, but it took two years to agree on the property. sale price of N $ 8.8 million.
The price would have been a new record for a Brakwater property.
Deeds office records show that ownership was transferred from Nipko to Sycamore Investments CC for N $ 8.8 million on March 15, 2002.
Sycamore Investments CC records show that it was registered on January 11, 2002 with Timothy Roman as its only member.
Roman was an American pilot from Pennsylvania in the United States (US) who became Joseph Kabila’s main fixer after the young brigadier’s sudden rise to power when he was appointed President of the DRC a week after the assassination from his father.
A Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting report titled “All the President’s Wealth” identified Roman as the pilot of Kabila, who set up companies for the former DRC ruler.
The property was initially leased to a businessman from Rehoboth, but then sat empty for several years.
It was later redeveloped with major structural renovations including an additional exterior wall and a second security door.
Namundjebo-Tilahun UAG stated that itx was not involved in this property.
UAG attorney Natangwe Asser, in an emailed statement on behalf of the Tilahun couple, denied any knowledge of this property.
* This article is produced by the Namibian Investigation Unit.
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