The frosty relationship between Mines and Energy Minister, Tom Alweendo, and the Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia) board was highlighted this week when directors of the diamond marketing and sales company skipped the handover of a N$50 million dividend cheque to the minister.
Alweendo expressed surprise that no board member had attended Tuesday’s event.
“I don’t see any board member here. They are supposed to do the handover (symbolic cheque). I see that they have sent you (Namdia’s management) to do the hand over,” Alweendo said.
In June, the minister expressed his frustration with the secretive nature of Namdia’s operations, accusing the company of not being transparent in the way it sells the country’s rough diamonds.
He also raised concern over the board’s high fees, labelling them “excessive”.
On Tuesday, Alweendo said although he had concern with governance issues with Namdia in the past, the ministry and the company were now on the same ‘wavelength.’
“The issues have been rectified,” he said.
Public Enterprise Minister, Leon Jooste, told the Windhoek Observer in September that Namdia will now fall under Tier 3 of State-owned Enterprises, under which the chairperson may earn a maximum of N$104,125.66 as an annual retainer fee and N$57,490.61 as an annual sitting allowance, while directors may earn N$85,058.12 and N$32,511.00, respectively.
The 2017/2018 Namdia Annual Report released this week, showed that the company’s Chairperson, Shakespeare Masiza, was paid N$824,268 in board fees, while board members earned between N$185,000 and N$670,776 in board fees.
The board is made up of Masiza, Tania Hangula, Bonifatius Konjore, Venondjo Maharero, Chris Nghaamwa and Lorentha Harases.
Namdia CEO, Kennedy Hamutenya, said the company’s total revenue for the financial year was almost N$2 billion, taxes paid were N$80 million and export duties and profit after tax was N$139 million.
Statistics provided by Alweendo this week showed that the mining sector grew by some 12.2 percent in 2017 and contributed the same percentage to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“This is in comparison to a contraction of 5.8 percent and GDP contribution of 12 percent in 2016, showing a marked improvement driven by improved output of diamonds, uranium and gold.”
Alweendo revealed that local diamond production for the 2017/2018 financial year was just over 1,8 million carats.
“Of this, Namdia and other sight holders were offered 240,000 carats of Namdeb’s run of mine production valued at some US$360 million as compared to US$291 million in the 2016/17 financial year,” Alweendo said.