The Walvis Bay Corridor Group has appointed TransNamib Executive for Commercial and Marketing Hippy Tjivikua as the new Chief Executive Officer, effective 01 October 2019, sources familiar with the appointment have told the Windhoek Observer.
Tjivikua’s appointment sees him go in the opposite direction as his boss at TransNamib, Johny Smith, who left the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) at the beginning of February last year.
Smith and Tjivikua are said to enjoy a cordial relationship dating back to the time they worked together at the WBCG where Smith was CEO and Tjivikua, Project Manager.
Sources at TransNamib said Tjivikua’s last day in office was Monday, 30 September.
Tjivikua, who spent seven years at TransNamib, had a relatively torrid time at the railway operator.
His contract as the Executive for Strategy and Stakeholder Management came to an end in November last year together with that of the former Executive for Properties, Struggle Ihuhua, but was kept on the payroll allegedly with no board approval.
The Windhoek Observer understands that the former TransNamib Acting CEO worked for some months with no official designation until he was appointed as the Executive for Commercial and Marketing.
“He was doing events management and making and accompanying the CEO to meetings and events,” sources said.
Tjivikua joined TransNamib as Senior Manager: Operations seven years ago.
When Sara Naanda became TransNamib CEO in 2013, she changed the company’s structure and appointed Tjivikua as the Executive for Strategy and Stakeholder Management.
Interestingly, Tjivikua took over as Acting CEO in October 2014, when Naanda was suspended.
As Acting CEO, he was instrumental in coming up with the failed 180-day turn-around strategy that was launched in 2014.
The Windhoek Observer reported in 2015 that the first two 34 -class locomotives that arrived in the country in February of that year on lease, broke down and could not function.
On its first official test trip, locomotive number 1001 failed about 10 km outside Arandis en route to Kranzberg.
The Transnet Freight Rail team contracted by TransNamib later issued an instruction to stop the operation of the other 34-class locomotive, no.1002.
Tjivikua’s critics said during his tenure as Acting CEO no financials were released until he was suspended by the board together with Ihuhua on allegations of fraud.
An investigation led by retired Judge Collins Parker found that he allegedly committed fraud involving N$60 million.
According to The Namibian, the report recommended that the company should fire Tjivikua, criminally charge and report him to the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia, but this was never done.
Tjivikua was found to have committed fraud involving N$60 million when he contracted RMH Logistics to rehabilitate and install pumps and diesel tanks at TransNamib's Walvis Bay depot.
He remained on suspension until he was recalled when Smith joined TransNamib.
“The case has gone quiet, although a high-level team under the leadership of retired Judge Parker investigated a huge cost to the company,” the sources said.
Former Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group Clive Smith declined to comment on the appointment of Tjivikua or to provide details on how many other people were shortlisted for the position.
“WBCG Management is not in a position to respond to your below questions. You are respectfully requested to contact the WBCG Board of Directors,” Smith said.
Walvis Bay Corridor Group Acting Chairperson, Kevin Harry, said the process to appoint Tjivikua was transparent and was carried out jointly by the board and a professional recruitment firm.
He said there was nothing that could have prevented Tjivikua’s appointment after the WBCG received a positive testimonial from TransNamib.