Namibia: Nac Directors Brand Hangala Immature

The Namibia Airports Company's board is embroiled in a dogfight, with two directors accusing the parastatal's board chairperson Leake Hangala of being "immature" and attempting to influence the appointment of the next board.

Hangala wrote to transport minister John Mutorwa on 22 October 2019, advising him on what he should consider when he appoints a new board of the state-owned airport administrator in February next year.

Hangala said he was asked by the minister for advice, but Mutorwa has denied this.

The new board is likely to play a big role in the awarding of the tender to upgrade Hosea Kutako International Airport for more than N$4 billion.

Hangala urged Mutorwa to consider retaining some board members to ensure continuity, while replacing others.

He said key areas that the board will require in the incoming persons will be expertise in the areas of finance, aviation and engineering.

Two board members, Beverly Vugs - the deputy board chairperson - and Rudolph Rittmann, took offence over Hangala's letter to Mutorwa.

They said Hangala did not consult the board before writing to the minister, making it seem as if it was a collective decision.

They claimed that his letter was designed to influence the minister on which skills are set to be replaced on the board, affecting Vugs and Rittmann.

"It is precisely this type of influence-peddling that has, in the past, resulted in boards that have effectively been captured by the chairman - where the chairman's word is the law," the two directors said.

They also accused Hangala of being immature.

"While anybody may have views on other directors, as chairman, it is reprehensible and immature that you would write such a letter, given the improper nature of it," Vugs and Rittmann said.

The two directed Hangala to withdraw his letter to the minister in writing. "State that the views are yours, and not those of the board," the two directors stressed.

NAC board appointments have always been a bone of contention among power players. The Namibian has in the past reported that the NAC board was picked based on recommendations by power players who want to benefit from multibillion-dollar tenders.

Mutorwa responded to Hangala on 28 October 2019, acknowledging the letter.

He said adverts would soon be placed in newspapers, inviting qualified Namibians to apply for positions on the NAC board.

"Current NAC board members, who wish, are also free to apply, accordingly," the minister stated, adding that the board will be appointed by 20 February 2020.

Hangala admitted yesterday that he did not consult fellow board members before writing to the minister.

"I wrote a letter to the minister on the skills that are needed on the NAC board. I did not ask the board's views as I did not need to," he said.

He insisted that he did not tell the minister that certain directors should go or remain. "I just spoke of skills required, some of which might be on the board already. As a professional, I will always try to give my superiors the most professional and unbiased answers," he continued.

Hangala said the minister had asked him for advice.

But Mutorwa refuted this version, saying he did not ask for Hangala's advice.

"You know how I work. I did not ask for advice. Maybe some people did it in the past, but I don't handpick people. I cannot be influenced," he emphasised.

The minister said he read the letter, but he believes the two board members, Vugs and Rittmann, overreacted on a non-issue.

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