Namibia: Telecom Replaces Board Without Interviews

The Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH) has rushed a decision to appoint interim board members for Telecom Namibia before the closing date for applications.

Although positions on the board were advertised as per normal procedure, the appointments were concluded this week.

The closing date for applications was set for 17 July.

The interim board members are Frieda Kishi, Ndeunyema Shiwana, Elizabeth Joseph, Jerry Muadinhohamba and Fernando Somaeb.

The new members replaced Irene Simeon-Kurtz, Damoline Muruko, Petro Oberholster and Willem Titus.

Somaeb, who previously served as chairperson of the board, was demoted to the position of deputy chairperson, while Muadinhohamba takes over as chairperson.

Minister of public enterprises Leon Jooste yesterday said the decision to appoint these board members was motivated by the speedy dismantling of NPTH.

Jooste said the board would only serve for the next six months until December.

The bill to have NPTH dismantled was passed by parliament recently and the process will be concluded soon.

The board's term lapsed and it was decided a long-term board would not be required.

"The act makes provision for the appointment of a temporary board under such conditions. After this process is concluded, Telecom, NamPost and MTC will be reporting directly to the ministry, and not via NPTH as has been the case previously," Jooste said.

Cabinet oversight is not required for temporary boards, he said.

NPTH is the holding company for NamPost, Telecom and MTC.

The appointment of the interim Telecom board, however, sparked criticism, with accusations of tribalism and favouritism.

Telecom insiders have accused a deputy executive director in the ministry, Louise Shixwameni, of favouring the people appointed to the interim board without being interviewed

"The involvement of the deputy executive director and her agenda of appointing only those in favour with her, or from certain tribes must be addressed as there are many boards up for renewal, and word on the street already has it that she is working in cahoots with friends to set up these boards," the source said.

Sources are also questioning Ndeunyema and Muadinohamba's appointments, citing a conflict of interests.

Ndeunyema, who is Namcor's senior manager for business strategy and performance management, is said to be a consultant for the public enterprises ministry.

Muadinhohamba is a member of the Central Procurement Board. He also serves on the PowerCom board - a subsidiary of Telecom.

Shixwameni confirmed to The Namibian that Ndeunyema's company is indeed doing work for the ministry.

She denied any involvement in the appointment of the board.

"I was never involved in this process. Whoever is dragging my name into this mess wants to tarnish it. I have no relationship with any of these members and I am not even aware of these appointments. There has been a lot of infighting on these boards and I don't want to be a part of it," Shixwameni said.

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