WINDHOEK, 29 JUN – McHenry Venaani of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) in the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday rejected five of the 157 Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite tablets donated to parliamentarians from China’s Huawei technology company.
He said other PDM members had been awaiting his return from Europe so that they could all collectively return their gadgets to Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa.
Simataa was however not present in the NA on Thursday to receive the rejected tablets.
PDM rejected the gifts, saying that the company has business interests in Namibia and wants to bribe politicians in winning certain contracts.
“Corruption in this country is being perpetuated by inside trading. You give things to smoke so that you work out the process to get what you want in the country,” he charged.
To back his claims, Venaani said MPs are members of several committees that have oversight functions over State-owned Enterprises (SOEs), such as the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN).
“If these members are influenced by these gifts, which falls directly under CRAN’s mandate, they might be conflicted, especially if a company like Huawei has business interests in Namibia,” Venaani said.
The move by PDM comes a day after media reports that Huawei won the MTC contract to supply it with the telecommunications equipment in the construction of over 520 towers countrywide to the tune of N.dollars 1.1 billion.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was rather unimpressed by Venaani’s decision, saying he was trying to be “dramatic”.
“Nobody was forced to accept the donation,” she told Venaani, adding that he was just exercising his right in dismissing the gifts.
She then downplayed Venaani’s insinuations that the gift was intended to bribe local politicians.
“Our oversight responsibility as a Parliament does not give us a right to interfere into the works of the executive. These offices are autonomous,” claimed the premier, adding that Parliament does micromanage SOEs and could therefore not be bribed with these devices as purported by Venaani.
“I cannot be bribed by anyone with an iPad!” she said.
Two weeks ago, Huawei donated 157 Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite tablets to MPs to the tune of N.dollars 700 000.
The tablets were received with mixed feelings by several MPs amid reports that Huawei’s tech devices are used to spy on politicians and prominent people in foreign countries.
Despite these concerns, Simataa assured his fellow parliamentarians that they took into consideration the relevant security issues associated with the brand, before accepting them.