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Amta paid Savva N$1,1m for ‘verbal’ rental deal

THE Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta) managing director, Lungameni Lucas, is accused of entering into a verbal agreement with businessman John Savva, which resulted in the parastatal paying N$1,1 million in unauthorised spending.

The deal was for the rental of a property at the coast at a rate of N$15 000 a month for five years.

The Amta board appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in June last year to investigate the operations and bank transactions of the company.

Documents seen by The Namibian, dated 14 November 2022, show that lawyer Profysen Muluti initiated a disciplinary case with eight misconducts against Lucas while lawyer Phillip Barnard was set to chair the hearing. Lucas faced charges relating to a lease agreement he allegedly entered Amta into with Savva in April 2015.

“At the time of concluding the agreement it was not reduced in writing, and only after the said premises became vacant, the landlord [Savva] provided a written lease agreement signed by the landlord only,” Muluti said.

The lease contract entered into verbally was set to run from 1 April 2015 to August 2020, but Amta made no payments for over five years while occupying the property, according to documents.

The situation forced Amta to enter into a settlement agreement with Savva through which the company was forced to pay N$1,1 million within three months.

Amta paid N$420 000 on 11 December 2020, N$350 625 on 25 January 2021, and N$350 625 on 25 February 2021.

Documents reveal that not only was the lease contract agreed on verbally, but Amta did not pay rental fees for the said five years.

“Amta did not pay rent for 65 months. As a result thereof, on 18 December 2020 you entered into or caused Amta to enter into a settlement agreement in respect of the lease that it was indebted to Savva N$1,1 million,” Muluti said in a document setting a case against the under-fire managing director.

“When you caused Amta to conclude the said lease agreement and deed of sale, and committed it to payments stated, you did not obtain the approval and authorisation of the board,” he said.

Muluti said both the lease agreement and settlement agreement Lucas entered into were done without authorisation or board approval.

Last Friday, Savva said he recalls the lease agreement being handled professionally.

“It was years ago, but I do remember Lungameni, it was not him alone. He was with some other guy. So, I fixed up the property and they did their own thing, but they never paid rent,” Savva said.

He said he opted for a settlement agreement because he did not want to take Amta to court.

“When you stay in a place and you don’t pay rent, surely something must be done. I decided to solve the issue in a peaceful manner,” Savva said.

The investigation found that during Lucas’ tenure, Amta lacked financial control.

Lucas was appointed as Amta boss in 2014 and is currently on suspension.

He maintains that the allegations against him are just that.

“Those are their allegations, but the time will soon come for me to defend myself through my lawyers. I’ve started the process already.

“I don’t know where you are getting your information from, but I’m not allowed to speak to the media about this,” Lucas said last week on Wednesday.

Last week, Amta board chairperson Lorna Shikongo-Kuvare said the disciplinary committee is chaired by advocate Phillip Barnard and Muluti, and not lawyer Bernard Tjatjara.

She said Lucas has not been found guilty yet.

“For The Namibian to pre-empt this process and find Mr Lungameni guilty is not only irresponsible, but also highly damaging to the process and individual concerned.

“The due process is taking place, and ultimately the guilt, or lack thereof, of Mr Lungameni is yet to be determined.”

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