12 November 2012

Namibia: Biwa Refused to Resign

THE chief executive officer of the Namibian Airports Company (NAC), Ben Biwa, was given the option to resign three days before he was suspended last week, The Namibian has learned.

Biwa, who had just served his first year as CEO of the airports company, reportedly declined to step down despite the board's offer of a three-month advance payment.

Biwa last week confirmed his suspension, but declined to comment further.

The Namibian is reliably informed that Biwa's suspension letter listed no charges against him.

Biwa, a former director of financial markets at the Bank of Namibia, is accused by the board of leaking confidential information to the media.

The board of directors is said to have singled out Biwa as a scapegoat for a damning report that revealed that the NAC had paid millions for work that was never done.

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

A source said the decision was made without the blessing of the suspended CEO.

Biwa has introduced controversial changes at the NAC since his appointment in December last year. This included restructuring the airports company and laying off some of the workers.

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

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

Two weeks ago, 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.

Efforts to get comment from Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina, NAC board chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala and the company’s spokesperson, Mia Davids, have proven futile since Thursday.

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