Gallery CEO in N$177k corruption storm

By Hertta-Maria Amutenja and Rosalia David

NATIONAL Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) Chief Executive Officer Snobia Kaputu is allegedly embroiled in a corruption scandal in which she is being accused of handpicking a company to facilitate a strategic plan workshop and draft the institution’s five-year strategic plan.

Insiders who have penned a letter seen by Confidente to the board in disgruntlement also allege that Kaputu allegedly alerted her favoured company of the N$177 000 tender before bids were publicly advertised in June this year.

“In another incident, bids documents were also collected by the CEO herself without following the requirements of the Public Procurement Act of Namibia,” the employees said before further alleging that in 2019 Kaputu had already submitted the names of the bidders whom she recommended for the tender.

Confidente is reliably informed that the company that was awarded the tender Lavenham Investments, was the one Kaputu had pushed for from before the bids were advertised to the extent that even after the procurement and bids evaluation committee had chosen a different company- Business Entrepreneurship Training’ (BETC)- she went on to decline this choice and awarded Lavenham instead.

Following complaints, the bid awarding was stopped pending investigations.

“Yes the strategic plan tender has been put on hold and there is no date yet as to when the tender will be re-advertised. There are a lot of things currently going on there at NAGN and there are investigations currently ongoing,” M’kariko Amagulu deputy director of arts at the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture who is directly responsible with the affairs of NAGN told Confidente.

Confidente is also privy to an email Kaputu sent out to NAGN legal officer Martha Ruider and five other colleagues requesting for the strategic plan workshop booking to be cancelled.

“Dear colleagues, reference to the strategic planning workshop which was intended to take place from Thursday to Friday this week, it is on hold until further notice. Naomi, in consultation with Charles kindly cancel the bookings until further notice,” reads the email.

On August 5, NAGN put out a notice for ‘selection of award’ on their website announcing that Lavenham Investments was the chosen bidder for the tender.

The procurement was for the consultancy to facilitate a strategic plan workshop, drafting of the five- year strategic plan and review of staff structure for NAGN under bid no: NCS/IQ/ NAGN/01/06/2020 – Lot 1.

“Kindly note that in terms of section 55 of the Public Procurement Act 15 of 2015 you  have  been  selected  for  the  award     for   the  amount  of   N$177 000.00 (inclusive VAT) , under subsection (4) of that section. You are informed that in the absence of any objection of the selection for the award referred to in paragraph one above within seven (7) days of this notice, the Accounting Officer of the of the National Art Gallery of Namibia will award the contract to you.

“A period of seven (7) days referred to in paragraph 2 above starts on 5 August 2020 at 11h00 AM and ends on 12 August 2020 at 16h00 pm,” read the notice.

In the bid notice, companies that were not selected are NIPAM, Quest Business Consulting Group, Business Entrepreneurship Training Company, Advance Training & Consultancy CC, Business Consulting Group and ATAC.

Quizzed about the allegations that were levelled against her by the employees, Kaputu refuted wrongdoing stating, “It’s not true” to all the questions that Confidente sent to her this week.