Namibia: NDC, ODC Bigwigs Stripped of Double-Perks

A HOST of unauthorised perks have been uncovered at the former parastatals Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) and the Offshore Development Corporation (ODC), including undeserved company vehicles that were dished out to senior managers, as well as death benefits for family members.

The two entities were merged to form the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (Nida) in November 2018, taking both their regulatory and operational mandates.

The scandal came to light when the Nida board took away company cars given to former ODC acting boss Phillip Namundjebo, former acting NDC boss Pieter de Wet, Naute Irrigation Scheme farm manager Mous Boshoff, Eersbegin date farm manager Jacques Jourbert and the Kavango Cattle Ranch manager Hansman du Toit.

Boshoff drove a Volkswagen Amarok, Namundjebo had a Volvo SUV, Du Toit and Jourbert drove Toyota Legend double cab vehicles while De Wet had a Land Cruiser SUV.

Various documents leaked to The Namibian, involve an internal audit report conducted by auditing firm, Ernest &Young Namibia, aimed at reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of the NDC system of internal controls and operations of its fleet management.

The firm found that NDC vehicle inspections were not performed, vehicle log books were not maintained, trip authorisation forms were not completed and vehicles not branded.

The firm also found that the allocation of NDC vehicles was not formally documented and that there is no electronic vehicle tracking procedures in place.

NDC has a fleet of approximately 105 vehicles of which five are pool vehicles and 100 are allocated vehicles. About 50 of these vehicles are at the head office in Windhoek, while the rest are out at the projects and other locations where NDC has major operations.

The vehicles come with an insurance cover of N$15,2 million.

Also leaked is a letter by Namundjebo, dated 5 March 2020, addressed to public enterprises minister Leon Jooste and former minister of trade and industry Tjekero Tweya, asking for intervention.

"My remuneration package, after 11 years, was unilateral (sic) altered as per letter from Mr Frans Kwala, chairperson of Nida, dated 1 February 2019. Subsequent to the letter from [the] chairperson of Nida, I made a follow up submission through the Nida committee, which was [to] no avail.

"I am unsatisfied with the unilateral decision to amend my remuneration benefit, which is an unfair labour practice and is against the Labour Act. Against this background, I am seeking Hon ministers' audience at earliest convenience prior pursuing alternative remedial recourse (sic)," Namundjebo's letter reads.

The current leadership of Nida comprises Uparura Kuvare as the executive director, Frans Kwala as the board chairperson, Erna Motinga as vice chairperson, Anita /Narib, Diana van Schalkwyk, Jacobus van Staden and Job Muniaro.

The Namibian has seen a letter addressed to Tweya by the board, informing the minister that Namundjebo's acting allowance of N$10 000 per month and the company car he has been using will be taken away.

"The acting allowance of N$10 000 was removed rightly, and in no contradiction with the provisions of the human resource policy, at the time when the executive director took office to be in charge of the transition to Nida.

"The board notes Mr Namundjebo's illegitimate call for Nida to conceal N$10 000 as token for long service. That in itself is tantamount to fraud.

Namundjebo's N$7 762,50 of car allowance remains.

The board went on to explain that it has not changed Namundjebo's remuneration unilaterally as claimed.

"It is confirmed that the board received the request for the abnormal benefit from Mr Namundjebo, and addressed the same through the HR committee and disapproved through its legitimate sitting and resolution on 26 February 2019."

In a telephone interview with The Namibian, Kwala said the decision to strip off such perks was not done by the board but that the board only executed an audit recommendation.

The board in their reply said Namundjembo had a car allowance to buy his own car and on top of that he was using company cars. This was being done by all managers at NDC and ODC.

"The decision was not that of the board. It was the external auditors that concluded in the audit report that it was wrong to have both benefits of car allowance and company car. We literally stopped the company cars and left the allowance intact.

"No policy provided for both car and allowance. Car allowance is an employment benefit and company car is not. So we only executed an audit recommendation," Kwala told The Namibian.

The Namibian has it on good ground that the bosses were also in possession of unlimited petrol cards to fill up whenever their vehicles were empty.

The Namibian is also informed that NDC employees were receiving N$5 000 for funeral services whenever a relative died.

This, The Namibian understands, was not restricted to one relative.

Kwala confirmed that this 'perk' has also now been withdrawn "as it was not provided for by the company in any of its policies".

It is not yet clear whether ODC employees were also receiving death benefits.

Before the merger, ODC had 22 employees while NDC had 264 permanent employees and about 400 casual workers.

When contacted by The Namibian, Tweya confirmed receiving Namundjebo's letter but directed questions to the Nida board.

Speaking to The Namibian, Jooste said at the time of receiving the letter, there was not much he could do, but will soon review all previous policies.

"There was very little I could do at the time [without the law]. I will now intervene and identify suitable remedial action.

"We will review all the HR policies, how they were implemented and if they were changed unilaterally or in conflict with the Labour Act. We will only be in a position to pronounce ourselves once we have all the information," Jooste said.

Following the implementation of the Public Enterprises Governance Act of 2019, Jooste now has extensive powers to go after State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) bosses and boards.

On 28 February 2020, Jooste directed that all commercial parastatal boards examine all existing agreements with subsidiaries and other legal entities, so they can be held accountable if they are not in the best interest of SOEs.

Nida is one of those SOEs.

Namundjebo did not pick up his mobile phone when The Namibian called.

Boshoff said he had resigned from his job because of the benefits that were taken away.

"I have already resigned because of the way the benefits issue was handled. It is all taken away. There was a reason why we had those cars, it is because of the type of roads we would travel and the company was just lenient to that. It is not just cars, bonuses for managers are taken away, overtime is taken away, so I decided to go," Boshoff said.

Naute Irrigation Scheme farm and Eersbegin Date Farm have been incurring losses.

Nida was established to advance Namibia's industrialisation agenda in line with the country's policies and developmental strategies, such as the Growth at Home strategy, Harambee Prosperity Plan and 5th National Development Plan.

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