17 December 2012

Namibia: N$400 000 Payment to Nalisa Raises Eyebrows

BRIAN Nalisa, the human resources advisor, was paid N$400 000 by the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) ostensibly for a telephonic consultation with the Labour Commissioner, Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, that did not even last 10 minutes.

Nalisa invoiced the airports company N$400 000 for consulting with the Labour Commissioner on the controversial restructuring process at the NAC.

NAC spokesperson Mia Davids on Sunday requested that questions be emailed to her so that she could send the figures on how much Nalisa was paid today.

Shinguadja confirmed yesterday that he was contacted by Nalisa earlier this year and they spoke for less than 10 minutes.

"We have not met. He called me to ask about the labour procedures. Whether he was paid, I don't know," he said.

A labour consultant The Namibian spoke to find out about standard human resource rates for consultancies said the N$400 000 if it was just for the telephonic conversation is exorbitant.

He said the standard rates charge for consultancies are between a N$1 000 and N$1 500 per hour.

The NAC restructuring ended the employment contracts of all employees, except for the CEO.

Some workers were laid off while others were rehired under new contracts, which some say were far less favourable.

What was meant to be a clean-and-lean reorganisation of the parastatal turned out to be costly for the company.

The hiring of Nalisa as the human resource advisor for the restructuring exercise has been a bone of contention after it came to light that he was paid a hefty amount of N$5 million for four months' work.

The revelation of N$400 000 for a conversation of less than ten minutes and a possible report is bound to raise questions over the judgement and the wisdom of the board members who approved the expensive Nalisa consultancy.

The amount is also questionable because the Labour Act lays out retrenchment procedures and does not need a labour consultant to devise a strategy, which in the end will cost a company close to half-a-million like in the case of NAC.

Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina is yet to act on a report submitted to him in May this year, which pointed out the N$5 million payment to Nalisa and other irregularities during the restructuring process.

Nghimtina has been saying that the committee, which was appointed by him, was biased in their report and that he could not act on their recommendations.

The report recommended among other things that the entire board be sacked.

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 report also contains damning allegations of mismanagement and fraud against the board.

Nalisa, who got the job to restructure the beleaguered airports company, was given the work without it going out on tender and also did not have a written contract with the NAC.

Since the debacle about his expensive consultancy, Nalisa has disappeared without trace and is believed to be in the USA.

Davids, the NAC spokesperson, yesterday said that as far as she knows, Nalisa is in the United States.

Earlier this year, the directors of the parastatal, specifically its chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala, were accused of ignoring elementary corporate governance practices by deciding on minute 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 the company overpaid in wrong salary calculations, making it difficult to recover the cost if the process was reversed.

The NAC is also in dispute with the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) over the payment of retrenchment benefits to the employees who were laid off.

The NAC claims that the workers were not retrenched, but left the company voluntarily. But, GIPF says the workers were retrenched as part of the restructuring exercise therefore the NAC must top up the pension benefits of the retrenched workers.

The parties have agreed that a neutral arbitrator be appointed to adjudicate in the matter.

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