24 January 2013

Namibia: NAC Wants Biwa Out

THE Namibia Airports Company is hell-bent on getting rid of its suspended CEO, Ben Biwa.

This emerged at the conciliation meeting at which Biwa and his legal team demanded reinstatement.

This, however was wishful thinking on Biwa's part, as the only mandate the NAC legal representative had was to negotiate a "separation" between the suspended CEO and the company.

With no agreement reached, the two parties are now heading for arbitration.

"I can confirm that no agreement has been reached and I have to provide them with a date for arbitration which would be likely during the course of next week," the arbitrator in the case, Harold Kavari, told The Namibian.

Biwa was suspended in November, nine months into his five-year term, after overseeing the controversial restructuring of the company. The restructuring of NAC had been decided on before Biwa's arrival and he only came in as the executioner.

The reorganisation of the parastatal was done two months into the new CEO's term.

Biwa, board chairperson Ndeuhala Katonyala and the chairperson of remuneration committee, Frieda Aluteni, became embroiled in a conflict over the payment of millions to consultant Brian Nalisa for the grading of staff members.

This resulted in an investigation into the activities of Nalisa and the two board members, which recommended that the entire board be dissolved and that criminal charges be laid against Nalisa, Katonyala and Aluteni.

Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina flatly refused to take any action despite the fact that he had appointed the investigating team under the chairmanship of James Sankwasa.

In the meantime the board tried to extend Biwa's "probation period", which was not provided for in his contract. When they realised that his conditions of employment could not be amended without his consent, they asked him to resign and offered him three months' salary as an exit package.

Biwa apparently refused that offer and it was at this stage that they suspended him. Three months later, no charges have been laid against him and he has not been brought before a disciplinary hearing.

It is against this background that Biwa's lawyer argued that his suspension must be declared null and void and he must be reinstated in his position.

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