Tweya ‘meddles’ in new Telecom board
Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, has been accused of meddling in the appointment of a new Telecom Namibia board, after he allegedly removed names of two of the five recommended candidates and replaced them with his preferred choices.
It emerged this week that Tweya had interfered after a strenuous appointment process, which included the psychometric testing of candidates.
This comes after shareholder, Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings Limited (NPTH), was given the nod to hunt for a new Telecom board.
NPTH is a State holding company that owns Telecom Namibia, Namibia Post, MTC and the properties divisions of all three companies.
Only NPTH has the power, through its establishment Act, to appoint boards and not the ICT minister.
NPTH hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct due diligence on several candidates, and also hired a South African company, Bioss Southern Africa, to conduct psychometric tests.
The Windhoek Observer is reliably informed that the five chosen candidates for the new board are Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Senior Communications Manager, Jerome Mutumba, former Namibia Competition Commission Chairman, Lucious Murorwa, Chief Executive Officer of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), Johny Smith, Be Marketed Namibia founder Irene Simeon-Kurtz and Namport’s Executive for Finance, Kavin Harry.
Tweya allegedly removed Murorwa and Mutumba, who, sources claim, had emerged top during the interview process.
The removal of the duo, according to sources, was done without explanation.
The two were allegedly replaced by Rundu businesswoman Rachel Nathaniel and Natasha Bassingthwaighte from the Law Society of Namibia Council.
A source claimed that Cabinet had effectively rejected the minister’s new list. However, this was later denied by Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste.
“Effectively Cabinet rejected Tweya’s list on Tuesday and asked that he go back and relook at his submission. It is perceived that he wants weak people that he can control, to advance his own agendas,” the source said.
The Windhoek Observer has established that some candidates ended up quitting the Telecom board appointment race, after they got fed up with the lengthy process that they were subjected to.
The current Roads Contractor Company (RCC) board Chairperson, Fritz Jacob, was among those who are said to have pulled out, after going through some stages of the appointment process.
Other candidates who pulled out are former Rössing Chief Financial Officer, Peter Carlson, and NamPost Chief Commercial Officer, Jenny Commalie.
When contacted for comment, Mutumba confirmed that he was approached to submit his CV for consideration.
He, however, said that he has not heard anything about the progress towards the appointment of the new Telecom Namibia board.
“I am not aware of what has been happening. However, I can confirm that I was approached to submit my documents. I have faith in the current political administration, which is heavily premised on transparency and fairness,” Mutumba said.
Sources also claim Tweya has bulldozed the appointment of Dr Marius Kudumo as Chairperson of the MTC board.
Jooste told the Windhoek Observer that Cabinet had not rejected the names forwarded by Tweya.
“Telecom, as a subsidiary of NPTH, is still under the authority of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (MICT) and will only be transferred to the Ministry of Public Enterprises once we’ve amended the legislation. I propose that you direct these questions to the MICT, but I can tell you that this information is incorrect, Cabinet approved the names as forwarded – a final decision will be taken at next week’s decision-making Cabinet meeting,” Jooste said.
When contacted for comment, an angry Tweya refused to be drawn into any discussion.
“I have no comment, please I am in a meeting now, call me later,” he said
Tweya came under fire last month, after he slammed the way media houses and journalists operate, while threatening media regulation.
His utterances caused such an uproar that President Geingob addressed the issue in a media conference at State House, where he pointed out that it is not government’s policy to control media freedom.
Telecom Namibia’s Senior Manager of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Oiva Angula, said that he is not mandated to talk about board appointment matters.
“The issue is that the appointment of the board of directors is not our mandate, it should be made by the shareholder, not us,” Angula said.