Namibia’s first local soap halted by Film Commission audit

Content

Namibia’s first local soap has halted production because of an audit by its main investor, the Namibian Film Commission (NFC). This emerged after a story in the New Era claimed that the production had been halted because of misappropriation of funds, something that is firmly denied by all involved.

According to NFC Secretary Edwin Kanguatjivi: "It was normal practice for The Namibian Film Commission to have checked on how the money allocated for the project was spent during the initial phase of production in which seven episodes had been completed. It was a case of better now than later to ensure proper control and accountability on the public's tax money." According to Kanguatjivi there was nothing sinister about the statutory body's actions in halting the production operations and auditing money spent:”I don't consider the stoppage as a criminal investigation or an premature audit or any of the sort to deliberately sabotage the production process, but a necessary procedure to safeguard the NFC's money.”

According to Abius Akwaake of Optimedia: "I don't want to go into the NFC's quotations (see above) if this is what they have said. This is their issue. I don't know whether the NFC as the main financier of the project unilaterally pulled the plug on the project amidst allegations of misappropriation of budget funding by the producers. I don't know if there is any truth in that. There is no misappropriationof funds. We pulled the plug ourselves because we didn't have enough funding and that is why we have stopped. We couldn't continue without money. That is why the production came to a standstill, that is so. We have given our report to the FNC up to the stages up to how far we have gone and it is basically up to them to make their decision”.

"It is a lie and I think the story was written with ulterior motives to try and destroy our reputation. So, basically you have to apologize and set the record straight. This building (an office building which it was alleged production funds had been diverted to build) is not linked to Optimedia. Secondly, it is not linked with any misappropriation of funds….. We are business people who operate on normal business practices and we are following due procedures. There is nothing unbecoming in terms of our operation," Akwaake said.

"In conclusion I want to say this production was planned and organized in the best form in the industry when planning and producing a television series. We have also executed it in the best possible practice and manner in accordance with world standards. We have our accounts, our systems are in place to ensure that we account for everything that we have received because this is taxpayer's money”.

More than 40 Namibian known and unknown male and female actors have been cast in roles in the groundbreaking television series, all contracts now on hold due to this interruption.

New Era (Windhoek) 18 August 2008