State-owned Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), which manages public health sector testing and disease monitoring services through its 40 laboratories across the country,
has been left paralysed following the suspension of two more executives this week.
The decision to suspend Chief Human Capital Officer, Monika Pendukeni and Valerie Garises, who is employed as the Chief Technology Officer, follows the June suspension of Chief Executive Officer, Augustinus Katiti and three other executives.
NIP Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mecky Nghipandulwa, confirmed the latest suspensions on Monday, but refused to give the reasons.
“Yes, they have been suspended, but I will not reveal what they have been suspended for. It’s an internal matter,” Nghipandulwa said.
However, sources privy to the suspensions told the Windhoek Observer that Pendukeni was suspended for allegedly allowing three positions to be created in the company without the board's approval while Garises is accused of allowing a tender for the procurement of IT infrastructure to sail through without following proper procedures.
Contacted for comment, Pendukeni referred this reporter to Nghipandulwa.
“You should call Mecky the acting CEO,” she said.
NIP board Chairperson, Diina Shuuluka, and interim company spokesperson, Frans Kwala, also refused comment, saying Nghipandulwa is the right person to talk about the suspensions.
In June, NIP suspended the Chief Operations Officer, Harold Kaura, Chief Financial Officer, Cleophas Mbahijova and Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Jennifer Kauapirura, for, among others, illegally transferring N$1.8 million to be used as start-up capital for ST Freight Services.
Katiti and the three executives are yet to appear before a scheduled disciplinary hearing.
Katiti’s lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, told the Windhoek Observer recently that the hearing for his client, which was scheduled to take place from 24 July to 10 August, could not take place because he (the lawyer) was out of the country.
Katiti, Kaura, Mbahijova and Kauapirura face charges of failing to protect the interests of NIP, and that of bringing the name of the employer into disrepute.
The charge sheets seen by this publication also alleged that the four breached trust and truth.
Katiti is accused of approving an exemption from tender for the procurement of IT infrastructure and the transportation of specimens from health facilities in the Zambezi, Kavango East and West, Omusati as well as Ohangwena regions.
He is also accused of breach of tender policy by approving the granting of an exemption involving more than N$1 million against the requirements of the company's procurement policies and procedures.
The contract awarded to ST Freight, the charge sheet notes, caused NIP to lose more than N$3 million.
On the second count of breach of trust, the NIP board accuses Katiti and his subordinates of ignoring the company's procurement policies when they contracted Roma Kitchens to provide furniture valued at more than N$7 million in 2016.
He allegedly also failed to protect the interest of NIP when he allowed the awarding of a tender to ST Freight to transport specimens for three years – April 2017 to April 2020 – for a monthly fee of N$211,600, which could have been more than N$7 million in three years.
On the count of dishonesty, Katiti is said to have created three positions without the board's approval, and failed to disclose the posts for ratification to the new board in September 2016.
The two counts of dereliction of duty or wrongful withdrawal of cash or investments pertain to the withdrawals made from the NIP's Old Mutual investments.
The withdrawals, the charge sheet said, were made in November 2016 and June 2017, when N$10 million and N$7,9 million, respectively, were withdrawn without the board's approval.
The board says that Katiti did not inform them when he wrote to the Prime Minister in February 2018 to complain about non-payment for services rendered to the health ministry.
On 1 March 2018, the board further said, Katiti did not inform them when he wrote to the Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, before the NIP “inadvertently signed a collective agreement with Napwu in November 2017”.
The signing of the collective agreement, the board is arguing, has an impact on staff salaries and wages and benefits for 2018/19 and 2019/20.
According to the board, by communicating with the Prime Minister and Jooste, Katiti brought the name of the NIP into disrepute.