11 January 2019

Namibia: Muawiya Salary in the Spotlight

Sports Commission chief administrator Simataa Mwiya is planning to downscale his over N$1 million annual remuneration package to its previous value after several sports commissioners accusd him of milking the country's sports governing body's already depleted coffers.

THE controversy surrounding Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chief administrator Simataa Francis 'Freddy' Mwiya's self-inflated salary took a new turn this week.

The Namibian has reliably learnt that Mwiya is planning to downscale his over N$1 million annual remuneration package to its previous value, having been accused by several sports commissioners of milking the country's sports governing body's already depleted coffers, and general mismanagement with the aid of his close associate and sports commission chairperson Joel Matheus, who approved his salary hike in an "arbitrary manner" last April.

The damning development surfaced early last month when Jesse Schickerling unceremoniously resigned from the commission over "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.

Mwiya's bumper increment to a salary of N$1 229 503 per annum, effective 1 April 2018, was done without the consent or input of board members, as is required by NSC regulations.

The NSC is a state-owned enterprise, for which remuneration guidelines and classification as per a certain tier do not permit the total package of the chief administrator (CA) at the institution to exceed N$900 000 per year. Yet, Matheus stated in a 12 November 2018 letter to sports permanent secretary Emma Kantema-Gaomas that they did not know until 2017 that the institution is an SoE and should comply with parastatal directives.

Mwiya has opted to remain mum on the issue, deflecting queries to NSC chairperson Matheus, who in turn told The Namibian yesterday that "due to the nature of the matter", he prefers "to make a media statement instead of answering individual media houses" on the issue. He did not provide an exact timeframe for when this statement would be made, despite the accusation dragging on from last year.

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

It now appears that the pair had 'misrepresented' the directive, and intend to backtrack with a meeting to that effect scheduled for 19 January, which is next week Saturday.

Similarly, sports minister Erastus Uutoni said he was "looking into the matter", and would pronounce his position once the investigation had been concluded.

Before the questionable salary hike, Mwiya is said to have earned just over N$753 000 annually. It was upgraded to N$800 000, and then to his present package.

Schickerling's claims of maladministration at the NSC were backed up by five other commissioners, namely Erica Beukes, Adelheid Jacobs, Monica Shapwa, Benjamin Rebang and Peter Wilson.

The aggrieved group, in a joint statement, said Mwiya and Matheus had become a law unto themselves.

Mwiya equates his portfolio to that of a chief executive officer, a point of view which Schickerling and the rest strongly oppose.

"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 their 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", the commissioners said.

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