18 December 2018

Namibia: Admin War Engulfs Sports Commission

THE present discord at the Namibia Sports Commission amplified by maladministration claims and the resignation of a senior official is the type of crippling liability that sport minister Erastus Uutoni is battling to rid the ailing sector of.

Uutoni said the commission should set a better example to its affiliates instead of compounding the long-held notion that Namibian sport was an obdurate sector incapable of growth and devoid of competent leadership.

The minister is "looking into the matter" that led to the unceremonious departure of advocate Jesse Schickerling from the commission last week.

Schickerling resigned from the commission last Tuesday, citing "an endless circle of frustration" regarding his objection to questionable administrative practices ranging from poor record keeping to questionable conduct by senior figures at the country's sports mother body.

"I don't want to say too much on this matter. Yes, I'm aware of it and need to consult thoroughly on the matter before I can comment," Uutoni told The Namibian Sport yesterday.

"I would have preferred that he [ Schickerling] could have come to me before resigning. He is a very experienced person in sport, so it means we are losing someone with value. But you cannot force him to stay, it's his right to choose whether to stay or not," he said regarding Schickerling's resignation.

"Since I came into sports, I've been saying that we need to get our house in order and uplift this industry. Our administration must improve. This is the key to developing sport and attracting investment," Uutoni noted.

Tellingly, Schickerling claimed that NSC chief administrator Freddy Mwiya had become a law unto himself, having arbitrarily inflated his salary through usurping "rights and duties which he does not have in terms of the applicable legislation and disregarding the stance of the commissioners".

Consequently, this has led to the commission devouring "a vast amount of funding supposed to benefit athletes", Schickerling said.

His version of the damning state of affairs at the sport organisation is endorsed by five other commissioners namely Erica Beukes, Adelheid Jacobs, Monica Shapwa, Benjamin Rebang and Peter Wilson.

Mwiya has opted to remain mum on the issue, deflecting queries to NSC chairperson Joel Matheus, his alleged cohort.

Matheus said Mwiya's pay rise was above board and in keeping with a public enterprises ministry directive under which the sport commission falls.

In putting their weight behind Schickerling, the five commissioners dismissed Matheus' claim, saying that "we fully understand and associate with the frustrations expressed" by their former colleague.

Mwiya's camp, who accuse Schickerling of personal gripes against Mwiya, view the CA portfolio as equal to that of a chief executive officer, while the opposing camp does not.

"Firstly, the remuneration package of the chief administrator was never discussed or approved by the commissioners [the board]. We have repeatedly made this clear to the chairperson of the board [Joel Matheus]," the concerned commissioners said in a press statement.

"The chairman on his own signed an agreement determining the CA's remuneration package without discussing or getting approval from the other commissioners.

"We, together with Schickerling, have questioned this action throughout and since it became known to us. The commission did not approve the remuneration package of the CA and we do not accept it as valid. We agree with the sentiments expressed by Schickerling," the statement continues.

The commissioners also contend that Schickerling is the consummate professional and suggestions otherwise are off the mark, whereas Mwiya and Matheus are not.

"We, as commissioners, have continuously raised concerns about the regular absence from office by the CA and the manner in which he conducts himself. He refers to himself as CEO, whereas he is not. He is the chief administrator. He is the chief accountant, must manage the office staff and execute instructions of the commission. Between himself and the chairperson, they conduct themselves as if they and they alone are the commission," the commissioners said.

The commissioners also urged sport federations to provide details of when last they received funds for development and international participation. This will substantiate Schickerling's claim of financial mismanagement, they said.

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