13 November 2012

Namibia: Minister Refuses to Act Against NAC Board

MINISTER of Works and Transport Erkki Nghimtina yesterday said he won't take action on a report which recommended that he dismiss the board of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC).

The investigation was commissioned by Nghimtina and the report came up with damning allegations of mismanagement and fraud against the board.

The report, finalised in May, called on the minister to act against the Namibia Airports Company board after it reportedly failed to follow good corporate governance principles, did not act in the best interest of the company when dealing with suppliers, and made irregular payments to a consultant.

Nghimtina, who has been sitting on the report since May, said the board would not be fired since they still had long-term projects.

“The current board is responsible for various big projects which are underway. People should at least wait until their contracts are over,” he said.

The report singled out NAC board chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala and board member Frieda Aluteni for criticism.

Nghimtina said it won't be a positive move if he had to fire the board.

Beside that, the minister said the report was “subjective, mixed-up and has some problems”.

The Namibian understands that top officials in the Works and Transport Ministry have recommended that the board be dismissed.

At the centre of the report was the hiring of human resources consultant Brian Nalisa, who, according to the report, was paid N$5 million in the space of four months for work that had not been completed.

Nghimtina questioned the report's findings, saying the company stopped the transaction.

The minister yesterday also stood by the board's decision last week to suspend the company's CEO, Ben Biwa.

Biwa was given the option to resign three days before the suspension was announced.

Biwa reportedly declined to step down despite the board's offer of three months' advance payment.

“If someone is not performing then the board has the right to take action that is good for the company,” Nghimtina said yesterday.

“The CEO was there because of the board. People should concentrate on his performance and whether he fulfilled it or not,” he said.

So far the board has not given Biwa reasons for his suspension. It is understood that the board is trying to charge him with performance-related misconduct. Reports have it that Biwa had been serving a nine-month probation period as CEO after leaving his job as the director of financial markets at the Bank of Namibia.

However, The Namibian has learned that there was no probation clause in his contract.

Efforts to get comment from NAC board chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala and the company’s spokesperson, Mia Davids, have been unsuccessful since last week.

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