22 January 2013

Namibia: Biwa Challenges His Suspension

THE controversial decision by the board of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) to suspend its CEO, Ben Biwa, will be challenged at a conciliation hearing at the Office of the Labour Commissioner today.

After leading the NAC for nine months, the board, under the chairmanship of Ndeuhala Katonyala, suspended Biwa on November 8 last year on the grounds of alleged irregularities.

Katonyala assured the media that once the investigations were completed the board would announce the charges laid against Biwa.

But after almost three months on suspension no charges had been laid against the CEO despite the fact that this should have been done within ten working days.

The suspension came shortly after an commission of inquiry into the activities of some board members, including Katonyala, was completed and its contents revealed.

The report recommended that the board be dismissed and that criminal charges be laid against Katonyala and the chairperson of the Remuneration Committee, Frieda Aluteni.

Initially Katonyala wanted to extend Biwa's probation period, but his five-year contract did not make provision for an extended probation. In terms of the Labour Act an employee's conditions of employment cannot be amended without the consent of the person involved.

It was then that a decision was taken to suspend Biwa but he was never subjected to any disciplinary hearing.

The Office of the Labour Commissioner confirmed today's conciliation meeting, where Biwa will argue that his suspension was unprocedural and that it should be declared null and void.

In the meantime the NAC has confirmed in an advertisement published in newspapers that the position of CEO is not vacant. It further lashed out against the media for continuing to write about problems at the NAC.

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