NamibRe Managing Director, Petty Karuaihe-Martin, has become the public victim of a power struggle amongst the company’s directors, sources close to the State-owned reinsurer board insinuated this week.
The sources claim there is a drive to oust Karuaihe-Martin from the company after suspicions that she orchestrated the removal of some of the NamibRe board members before their tenure was renewed.
Karuaihe-Martin is suspected of de-campaigning the current Chairperson, Libertha Kapere, who previously served as the Deputy Chairperson before she was elevated to her current position.
The MD is suspected of having wanted the now Vice Chairperson, Slysken Makondo to take over as chairman and when that failed Kapere, allegedly, went on a campaign to vilify Karuaihe-Martin as payback.
According to the sources, Kapere has been trying very hard to look for evidence to get the MD fired, but despite several attempts, she has not been able to find the evidence.
“Kapere was not supposed to be chairperson, but she manoeuvred and forced her way. So, she thinks that the person who was against her becoming the chairperson was Karuaihe-Martin,” the sources claimed.
When contacted for comment, Kapere praised her relationship with Karuaihe-Martin, adding that there was no bad blood between them.
“Ms Karuaihe-Martin and I have been working together with the rest of the board for the past years in making NamibRe a model SOE. We have a good working relationship and I do not have an agenda to oust her.
“NamibRe has been one of the SOEs that have been performing well over the past years, which performance can be confirmed in its annual reports. I am not in cahoots with the Minister of Public Enterprises,” Kapere said.
Sources further alleged that the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, did not want Kapere to be the chairperson as he felt that she did not have the necessary skills for the position.
Kapere, however, is said to have had the backing of the Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, who, it is claimed, pushed for her nomination in cabinet when the names were presented.
According to the sources, the two, (Jooste and Kapere) are now working in cahoots to oust Karuaihe-Martin.
Jooste told the Windhoek Observer that he received a complaint against the MD which he shared with Schlettwein.
“I have not discussed this with any of the board members and I take offence to any allegation of me or the ministry working with board members to oust the MD. I am also not aware of such an exercise.
“When we receive allegations like this we seek clarification from the institution, evaluate the clarification provided and then take the decision as to whether we should investigate or not,” Jooste said.
Karuaihe-Martin is the subject of an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation for alleged exorbitant spending, travelling and favouritism in appointments and envisaged appointments.
In a letter sent to Karuaihe-Martin from the ACC, she is asked to provide a detailed breakdown of all trips undertaken by NamibRe's senior management over the last two years, including the costs involved as well as to explain the cost-cutting measures she has put in place at NamibRe to prevent unnecessary travel by officials.
The ACC also requested that Karuaihe-Martin provides a breakdown of leave taken by senior managers over the past two years with information to be accompanied by documentary proof.
The ACC also requested information of acting allowances paid over the last two financial years, and the positions involved.
Additionally, ACC asked Karuaihe-Martin to provide the ACC with a list of NamibRe officials who received Apple iPads and watches.
She is also being investigated for a catering tender that she is alleged to have issued to her sister, among other allegations.
Sources said the campaign against Karuaihe-Martin will come to naught as the majority of board members are in support of what she has achieved since taking over office in 2014.
“In 2014, the company’s gross return premiums were at N$157 million while in 2017 it rose to N$307 million and that is almost double. When she first started the board put targets for her and one of them was to get clean reports and this she has done for the past four years,” the sources said.
Karuaihe-Martin refused comment on the claims and on the ACC investigations, saying the board is currently seized with the matter.