WINDHOEK, MARCH 10 – Popular Democratic Movement Treasurer General Nico Smit has charged that the N$340 million saga involving the now-defunct Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) bank smells of collusion between Namibia’s SWAPO party and South Africa’s ANC. In a statement christened ‘Robbing the Poor to pay the Rich’ issued by the PDM on Sunday, Smit further likened the saga to South African bank VSB, in which depositors had lost money across in Limpopo.
“And it seems clear that there was collusion between the elites of the two ruling parties in Namibia and South Africa who established these banking schemes, namely SWAPO and the ANC.”
Said Smit: “It strikes us as very suspicious that the Namibian SME Bank scheme has so many similarities to the VSB Bank scheme that recently caused such chaos among poor depositors in Limpopo in South Africa. Both these banks received large deposits from government institutions; both operated a kind of ponzi scheme that finally led to the wholesale looting of the bank’s assets by a chosen elite. And it seems clear that there was collusion between the elites of the two ruling parties in Namibia and South Africa who established these banking schemes, namely SWAPO and the ANC. Our information further indicates that a large part of the SME Bank’s funds went to the VSB Bank in Limpopo, South Africa.”
He said it was deplorable that the institution that was supposed to achieve small but important gains for SME owners was revealed as controlled by personal interests, corruption and outright criminality.
“The SME Bank’s management operated the institution like a cash loan business, exploiting innocent people, and eventually defrauding them. According to the response the PDM received from its constituencies, the damage has affected tens of thousands of poor Namibians.
Essentially, the SME Bank has robbed Namibians of their futures and their future incomes. Closely involved individuals have benefitted at the cost of those who can least afford it,” Smit added, calling for the full disclosure of every individual who was involved during the planning and commissioning phase, all shareholders, board members, and senior managers.
Smit further said that since 2019 is ‘the Year of Accountability,’ every person who undermined the SME sector must be brought to book.
“Corruption must be rooted out, not only on paper and by lip-service, but all its elements must be eradicated visibly, to be seen, observed and witnessed by those who were harmed by the SME Bank’s failure.”
According to Smit, the PDM believes wants the ‘real’ perpetrators of the SME Bank debacle to finally exposed, adding that “it was the brain child of the minister of Trade and Industry at the time namely our current president, His Excellency Hage Geingob and his tainted Zimbabwean collaborators.”
He also said there was “overwhelming evidence” that implicated senior government officials in serious conflict of interest which extended to the bank’s management.
“All the hidden agendas of high-ranking government officials must be exposed and the public must be warned to avoid any financial institution where there is a demonstrable involvement of politicians. The damage done to a disproportionately large number of Namibians is irreparable. Many small businesses lost a substantial amount of money forcing many who needed financing most, the SME owners, to abandon their businesses.”
Smit also belittled the referral of enquiries to liquidators as “of no use,” stating for good measure that it would not change the fact that money was “robbed from poor people to benefit the rich elite who used their political connections to con unsuspecting people into depositing their funds in a financial institution which they thought was above board.”
The PDM treasurer further said that a staggering one billion Namibian dollars was the minimum amount of money that was spirited away from the bank’s coffers.
“In the light of the extreme secrecy surrounding the real facts about the hidden agenda behind the establishment and collapse of the SME Bank and the fact that it seems that the amount of money lost far exceeds the N$200 million which is public knowledge the PDM demands that the liquidators make a full disclosure, telling the Namibian public what the true extent of the losses is – according to our sources more than one billion Namibian dollars – and that they publish a full list of every investor who has been affected by the bank’s closure.” – firstname.lastname@example.org