Mayor hustles for funds to Asia

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

ONGWEDIVA Mayor Angelina Angula has approached businesspeople to pay for her travel to Indonesia, despite the trip having been cancelled by Urban and Rural Development Minister Peya Mushelenga.

According to sources privy to the matter, Ongwediva Town Council received an invitation from Oshana Regional Governor Elia Irimari recently to accompany him to a trade fair in Indonesia, which was scheduled for last month.

“The council made a decision to instruct the CEO (chief executive officer) to go on that trip to get more information on the trade fair as chairperson of Ongwediva Trade Fair preparatory committee, and the mayor went ahead to seek funding without approval. Now the councilors want to know where the money is and she was not given any mandate for fundraising,” the source said.

Governor Irimari was invited by Indonesians who were said to be regular exhibitors at Ongwediva Trade Fair to their country, but later communicated to the council that the trip had been cancelled. After the cancellation, Mayor Angula reportedly went ahead though to request donations from businesspeople to fund the trip, which was scheduled for 16 October.

Ongwediva CEO Damian Egumbo said he was not aware of any money paid into the mayor’s personal account for the trip. He confirmed though that the council had received an invite from the governor, but no one from the council attended because the trip had been cancelled by Minister Mushelenga due to financial constraints.

“As far as Ongwediva Town Council is concerned we did not participate”, he confirmed, noting that the trip to Indonesia was contingent on approval from the relevant ministry.

“The Office of the Governor subsequently wrote us another letter where they informed us that the trip is no longer taking place. I think that is where we are. None of the town council delegation went. Neither the mayor nor any other person undertook a trip to Indonesia.

Angula confirmed to Confidente that she had indeed approached businesspeople to fund the trip after it was cancelled for lack of funds. “The person who is telling you that wants to destroy me. Because it is me who was supposed to go to Indonesia, even the invitation from the Office of the Governor, it says the mayor. And when we took a resolution they wanted to put their people. Who is corrupt?

“If you want to know the reality, it’s the CEO and the mayor that were supposed to go. Later on we don’t what had happened. Now someone from the committee of the trade fair must go. Then I said ‘Okay if you don’t want me to go, I am going to ask my people whom I know can support me because I am going to fight for my businesspeople.’

“Malaysians or Indonesians attend our trade fair, hence we have to go to their trade fairs as well. I’m the leader for the town. When they come here, businesspeople are benefitting. I told them that I had to accompany my governor and if you want to put someone else, I won’t argue. I took a decision on my own. I wrote a letter to the businesspeople and it’s my right because someone does not want me to go.

“I don’t have any money. I didn’t go because the trip was cancelled and I know who cancelled it, because they wanted to put their own people. I am clean,” Angula said.

She believed “some people” were bringing up the story because it is election year and they support different candidates. “I know those that are not on the same page with me are the ones that are dirtying my name… I am someone who studies socialism, I don’t know who you support. That is your own right.

“If they are saying I have been paid they must tell you who paid me, because when I realized that they didn’t want me to go – I am loyal person. I said: ‘It’s fine if there is no money.’ I wrote the letters as the mayor asking people to support me to go and talk on their behalf because I am the one who invites Malaysians and Indonesians to come and [exhibit] here…

“If the people that I wrote letters to paid money, that money must be on council’s account because I had put a council account, not my own account.

“I heard some councillors saying they heard Ben Zaaruka is funding my trip. Ben Zaaruka is my comrade, I am loyal and I am not corrupt. If Ben wants to support me, he will do it on his own. If he sent money, it should be on council’s account. If nobody is going, Ben must tell me and if the money is there I will go back to Ben and say ‘Comrade Ben, the trip was cancelled because of this and this.’”

Asked how much he donated to Angula, Zaaruka said he could not recall exactly but the money was given to Angula in her personal capacity and not in her official capacity as mayor.