15 May 2019

Namibia: Swapo Appoints New Board Bosses

DEVELOPMENT Bank of Namibia chief executive Martin Inkumbi and Swapo youth league leader Ephraim Nekongo are among the new faces appointed to the boards of Swapo-owned companies.

Swapo nominee shareholders' committee chairperson Clive Kavendjii confirmed yesterday that new persons had been appointed on Swapo-owned company boards. The shareholders' committee serves as the go-between organ between the party and its businesses.

The ruling party is widely known for running its business empire through Kalahari Holdings, whose portfolio includes 51% shares - estimated to be worth around N$250 million - in MultiChoice Namibia.

But the holding company has faced financial troubles over the years.

Kavendjii said the party appointed Inkumbi as the chairperson of Kalahari Holdings, deputised by retired brigadier general Rauna Hamata.

The other board members are Nekongo, businessman Elmo Kaiyamo, accountant Beverly Gawanas-Vugs, businesswoman Elizabeth Asino-Joseph, Social Security Commission chief executive Milka Mungunda, MMI Holdings Group head of internal audit Mona Lisa Jakobs, and Abraham Job.

Kavendjii added that the new appointments were made after the tenure of the previous board expired earlier this year.

According to him, the new board members will serve as from April 2019 to 2021.

"First of all, these are good cadres with good standing in the party," he noted, adding that they wanted leadership that will transform the affairs of party businesses.

The board members will sign performance agreements with the Swapo nominee shareholders' committee.

"They will be judged and monitored based on the performance agreements," Kavendjii said.

Inkumbi promised to transform Kalahari's investment portfolio into a profit-driven entity.

He said the company already had investments in diverse sectors, "which I believe are made either for profit or strategic motives".

"The aim should be that investments made with a profit objective are managed such that they ultimately yield expected profits in the medium term, otherwise the company should reconsider such investments.

"Further, what is required is good governance in the management of the company and investment decision-making," he said, adding that the responsibility "is huge, but we will aim to achieve good results".

Swapo party youth league secretary Nekongo yesterday said he was not aware of his appointment because, according to him, he has not yet received his appointment letter.

Equally, president Hage Geingob's personal assistant, Sharonice Busch, did not respond to questions sent to her by The Namibian.

The party is active in a range of critical sectors of the economy, including property, farming, media, fishing, transport, printing, security, healthcare and mining.

Kalahari Holdings wholly owns six subsidiaries - Namib Contract Haulage (NCH), Namprint, Kudu Investment, Ndilimani Cultural Troupe, Kalasota Mining Enterprises and the dormant Klondike Investments.

Kalahari is in joint venture ownerships with MultiChoice Namibia, Namibia Protection Services, Radio Energy, Africa Online, Farm De Rust, Sun Karros, Nabimar and Namhealth.

Most of these companies are loss-making, except the monopolistic 51% Swapo-owned MultiChoice Namibia, which has pumped millions into the ruling party's coffers.

The Namibian reported in 2017 that MultiChoice Namibia paid Kalahari Holdings around N$150 million in dividends ahead of Swapo's elective congress.

Geingob's administration has promised transparency and improved management of the ruling party-owned businesses, some of which were used by individuals as self-enrichment schemes.

ZEBRA HOLDINGS

Another Swapo-owned holding company is Zebra Holdings (Pty) Ltd, which has an interest in radio and other partnerships such as MetHealth Namibia Administrators, an entity which previously managed the state-owned Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS).

Kavendjii said Ndangi Katoma, Old Mutual's marketing and strategy executive, is the chairperson of Zebra Holdings.

Christian Maketo appears to have been demoted from being the chairperson of the Kalahari board - the party's crown jewel - to a less powerful board.

He is now the deputy chairperson at Zebra Holdings.

Maketo was involved in an infamous public spat last year with secretary general Sophia Shaningwa over a report published by The Namibian.

Shaningwa wanted Maketo to publicly apologise to her about that report, implicating her brother, but he refused to do so.

The other board members are Faith Witbooi, Festus Marenga, youth league secretary for finance Meriam Nghidipo and Amalia Ndjamba.

Katoma, who was reappointed as the chairperson of the Zebra Holdings board, said he will continue implementing the company's strategic plan. He noted that for the past few years, the company had been run transparently and prudently.

Swapo has another company which remained hidden from the public eye for years, despite getting various state-connected deals.

Guinas Investment

Guinas Investment, which was formed in 1991, has interests in mining, construction, fishing, hotels and manufacturing. Unlike Kalahari Holdings, Guinas Investment is rarely in the limelight, and its operations have seldom been reported on for decades.

Guinas has a stake in Rosh Pinah Zinc, Gendev Fishing Resources (Pty) Ltd, Nest Hotel at Lüderitz and Quality Bag Manufacturers.

Paulina Haindongo is the new Guinas chairperson, dep3utised by Dorothy Matengu, while the rest of the team comprises Maggy Mbako, Tuyenikelao Nicanor and the chief development planner in the office of the vice president, James Uerikua.

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