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Corruption allegations in Namibian 5G deal with Huawei

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A city councillor in Namibia’s capital has alleged she was offered a bribe by a local politician to ensure Chinese tech giant Huawei would win an exclusive contract to build the 5G telecommunication network in Windhoek.

Brunhilde Cornelius made the allegations in an affidavit that was filed with police on June 19 and has been obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.

Cornelius, who is also the secretary-general of the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress Party (RDP), alleged the bribe was offered by Nicanor Ndjoze, a fellow RDP member who is the party’s director of elections.

Ndjoze was allegedly working on behalf of his nephew, Reckliff Kandjiriomuini, otherwise known as “Minge”, the head of the ICT division of the City of Windhoek (COW).

The allegations come months after Namibia was rocked by several corruption scandals sparked by the so-called the Fishrot files, revelations that saw two government ministers – the former Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala and the former Minister of Fisheries Bernhard Esau – resign after a joint investigation by Al Jazeera, WikiLeaks and Icelandic media.

Shanghala and Esau have been in detention since late November 2019, pending trials for corruption, money laundering and fraud.

Huawei’s 5G network

In the affidavit, Cornelius claims that Ndjoze referred to a 40 million NAD ($2.4m) slush fund available for potential beneficiaries of the deal that would give Huawei exclusive rights to develop the infrastructure for a 5G telecommunication network.

Following her opposition earlier this year to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the COW city council and Huawei, Cornelius claims she was offered 5-6 million NAD ($300,000 – $360,000) to drop her objections and allow the city council to approve the signing of the MoU.

According to Cornelius, Ndjoze told her on May 12 she could receive the payment in exchange for dropping her opposition to signing the MoU with Huawei. Ndjoze allegedly told Cornelius the deal with Huawei was spearheaded by his nephew.

Kandjiriomuini allegedly enlisted Ndjoze’s help, knowing that he was a member of the same political party as Cornelius, to persuade her to accept the bribe and allow the MOU to be signed, according to Cornelius.

Hidden recording

Cornelius states in the affidavit that following Ndjoze’s alleged offer, she reported the attempted bribery to the police, who equipped her with hidden recording devices for future meetings with Kandjiriomuini and Ndjoze.

The affidavit explains how the following day, on May 20, Kandjiriomuini requested a meeting with Cornelius and Ndjoze. Picking her up from the COW municipality, Ndjoze drove Cornelius to a petrol station at the edge of town. En route, Ndjoze informed Cornelius that “local guys who we can trust” would set up a joint venture with Huawei.

Cornelius describes how Ndjoze told her to “relax” and that she was in “good hands” after Cornelius let him know she was scared to participate in such a scheme given the backlash caused by Al Jazeera’s Fishrot expose.

Surveillance footage obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera confirms that Ndjoze arrived at the petrol station with Cornelius at 16:44 local time, about 10 minutes after Kandjiriomuini. Ndjoze and Kandjiriomuini are seen having a discussion outside the car, before Kandjiriomuini steps into Ndjoze’s car, and they drive off.

The three then headed to the discreet Eagle’s Beer Garden on Windhoek’s Avis Reservoir. Cornelius described Kandjiriomuini and Ndjoze as being cautious to avoid anyone observing their meeting. During the conversation, Kandjiriomuini told Cornelius everything they discussed should be treated confidentially, that he was the driving force behind the planned deal with Huawei, and that the deal would be “to the benefit of all of us”.

According to the affidavit, when Cornelius asked directly when she should expect to receive her money, Kandjiriomuini responded that it would come when the MoU was signed and the project began.

Cornelius claimed the meeting with Ndjoze and Kandjiriomuini was covertly recorded using equipment hidden in her hat and undergarments as part of the investigation by the police. Al Jazeera was not able to independently verify the existence of the recording.

Kandjiriomuini said in a written statement to Al Jazeera: “There is no evidence of any recording in which I informed Ms Cornelius of any individuals benefiting from the Huawei project” and claimed that Cornelius had reasons for misrepresenting the position.

“I deny her false allegation.”

Ndjoze did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

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Africa

Alcohol and tobacco ban in South Africa in fight against Corona

Wolfgang Holzem

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Alcoholism is rampant in South Africa and the government wants to eliminate that in the corona crisis which seems to be working.

JOHANNESBURG | With its curfew against the coronavirus, South Africa wants to fight not just about the invisible coronavirus, but also about the all too visible alcoholism.

South Africa claims so many deaths from illnesses, traffic accidents, murder and violence that the country is at the top of the crime statistics worldwide and 10,000 people die every year from alcohol-related diseases.

For five weeks now there has not only been a curfew but also a ban on alcohol sales and many existing stores were looted, partly in collaboration with police officers known to be corrupt.

Alcohol ban relieves hospitals

South Africa’s Beer Association has also asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the ban but he refused “The restrictions will remain,” said the Presidency’s office, and the prosecutor officially opposed the Gauteng Association’s lawsuit:

“Alcohol is not a vital commodity in itself, but is actually an obstacle to the fight against the coronavirus,” she said.

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is behind the alcohol ban, which has already been shown to reduce violent crime and road accidents which relieves hospitals and emergency rooms and increases the capacity to treat Covid 19 patients.

With 3,635 confirmed cases of infection and 65 deaths, South Africa is the most affected country in Africa after Egypt in the pandemic . “Experience from the rest of the world shows us that hospitals must be prepared to accept, treat and isolate large numbers of Covid-19 patients, and isolate them from uninfected patients,” said the NCCC.

According to the Police Commissioner Bheki Cele , there were only 94 murders in South Africa last month , compared to 326 in the same period last year, rape cases have dropped from 699 to 101, violent attacks from 2,673 to 456.

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Tanzania hides its Corona Dead

Wolfgang Holzem

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Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has declared his country “free of coronavirus”. The infectious disease was “eliminated thanks to God,” Magufuli, 60, said to believers in a church in the capital, Dodoma and at a conference, he is said to have instructed the participants to remove their masks.

However, health experts and activists doubt that the spread of the coronavirus in Tanzania has actually been stopped and they consider the President’s statements dangerous.

Magufuli has long been accused of hiding the number of corona infections and deaths in Tanzania. The latest case numbers were released by the government on April 29. At this time, 509 people are said to be infected and 21 have died. There is no official information on how many people have been tested.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reprimanded the government for its lack of cooperation and transparency. Almost all other African countries are constantly reporting current numbers of infected, dead and recovered.

On June 9, 201,725 ​​Corona cases and 5,516 deaths were registered on the African continent . The exact extent of the virus spread is still difficult to estimate, among other things because it is difficult to determine the number of infections and deaths in rural regions. In some countries there are hardly any test options. According to the WHO , it is clear that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly on the African continent.

Tanzania’s President Magufuli has fundamentally questioned the usefulness of tests, has hardly established any preventive measures and has not ordered a strict lockdown. Schools and universities were closed, but churches were not. The people should pray together because the “devilish” virus, according to the president, cannot do any harm to the bodies of believers.

In mid-May, the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city with more than five million inhabitants, warned that the risk of contracting Covid-19 was “extremely high”. The statement is unusually undiplomatic: contrary to the limited information provided by the government, an exponential growth in the number of infections can be assumed. Many hospitals are barely able to cope with the onslaught of patients, and “life-threatening delays in medical care” could occur.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe in May cited records from doctors who at that time are said to have shown far higher infection numbers than the statistics reported by the government. The opposition assumed 400 deaths in Dar es Salaam alone and up to 20,000 cases of infection across the country. Kabwe criticized that President Magufuli was “hiding” in his home town of Chato on Lake Victoria for weeks instead of leading his country out of the pandemic. After the first 480 people in Tanzania tested positive for the corona virus, the director of the national laboratory, Nyambura Moremi, was suspended .

In many parts of the country dead people are said to have been buried secretly at night. Videos of nightly funerals spread through social media. According to media reports, medical professionals and doctors stated that the situation was unsustainable.

Is it possible to keep thousands of dead secret?
“The government of Tanzania is unbelievable,” Khalifa Said, 28, an investigative journalist from Dar es Salaam, says on the phone. “I’m afraid that many people in our country die from the corona virus without anyone ever knowing about it, at least that seems to be our president’s strategy.”

But is it really possible to keep hundreds or even thousands of dead secret? Government spokesman Hassan Abbas said it was impossible to cover up a corona outbreak. The funerals at night apparently ended in Tanzania.

“The president has now prohibited nighttime burials, but has allowed relatives to bury their dead themselves. For him, this is a win-win situation,” says journalist Khalifa Said. “People are happy because they want to say goodbye appropriately. Magufuli is happy because the dead do not fill the cemeteries in this way. Many are traditionally buried: in their village or near their own house.”

Government officials in Tanzania were not spared the plague either. Three members of parliament, suspected of having Covid disease, died within a few days in April. Among them, Justice Minister Augustine Mahiga. The Chadema opposition party advised its representatives to stay away from the government buildings and to stop attending meetings.

Magufuli has been ruling in Tanzania since 2015. His authoritarian style of government earned him the nickname “Bulldozer” as Magufuli manipulated elections, curtailed civil rights and freedom of the press.

The journalist Khalifa Said is one of the few who want to speak publicly about the current situation in the country. “It’s a regime of fear. Freedom of expression is hardly possible anymore,” says Said. Some reporters who have reported about Covid-19 in the past few weeks have been arrested , others have been suspended . There are penalties for reporting critical of the government, known as “fake news”.

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