9 November 2012

Namibia: NAC Suspends CEO Ben Biwa

THE Namibia Airports Company (NAC) has suspended its chief executive officer Ben Biwa, a year after he was appointed at the helm of the airport parastatal.

“I got a suspension letter. That is all I can confirm,” Biwa yesterday confirmed the suspension.

Efforts to get comment from Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina, NAC board chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala and the company’s spokesperson Mia Davids proved futile yesterday afternoon.

Biwa rang controversial changes at the NAC since his appointment in December last year. This included restructuring the beleaguered airports company and axing some of the workers.

The restructuring ended the contracts of all employees except that of the CEO, and all those re-employed were given new contracts.

What was meant to be an exercise for a clean and lean re-organisation of the parastatal developed into a costly and messy process for the company.

Controversy has reigned ever since the restructuring process began and one of the key issues is the dispute over the retirement benefits of 30 retrenched workers.

Just last week the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) said it would bring in an arbitrator to solve its dispute with the NAC after the company said the workers took voluntary retirement packages and were not retrenched.

It is understood that this would mean that the NAC would have to pay something in the region of N$17 million to the GIPF.

Another controversy was the hiring of human resources advisor Brian Nalisa.

A report submitted to Nghimtina in May this year said the company had paid N$5 million to Nalisa in the space of four months for work that had not been completed.

Nalisa was given the work without it going out on tender and also did not have a written contract with the NAC.

Earlier this year, the directors of the parastatal, specifically its chairperson Katonyala, was accused of ignoring elementary corporate governance practices by deciding on minor operational issues, including hiring lower-ranked staff and purchasing goods and services.

In addition, the NAC is said to have written off N$15 million that it had overpaid because of wrong salary calculations.

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