Simataa pulls Sioka’s strings

31 October 2013 Author  

front Sioka 01 novThe Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour George Simataa appears to be the driving force behind the decision by Minister Doreen Sioka’s ultimatum to have the entire board of the Social Security Commission (SSC) resign or be fired. Although the focus for the last couple of weeks in the SSC saga centred around the fallout between the board and its CEO Kapara Tjivikua and later with the minister what has now come to the fore is that the awarding of billion dollar projects by the SSC are also at play.

The Social Security Commission a few months ago announced its intention to build a N$400 million office complex in town and is also expected to set up a national medical and pension scheme. The latter two are also multi-million dollar schemes. The Windhoek Observer has learnt that all these projects are currently being managed by the current board and if it happens that the minister gets her way of removing the board the projects will directly be run from the Ministry of Labour.

In the N$400 million project for the office complex the SSC board was expected to appoint a consulting engineering firm before the end of this year to oversee the process.

The fear now is that if the minister gets her wish there would be a power and a decision-making vacuum at the SSC to carry through these projects.

The belief that a power vacuum would be in favour of Simataa, sources at the SSC belief is that fact that a local weekly which has close ties with Simataa has consistently reported particularly on the fallout between SSC chair and the CEO and subsequently Minister Sioka, heavily quoting internal documents only privy to top officials in the ministry and the SSC.

The fact that Simata was the one doing the talking when the minister called in the board members individually, requesting their resignations in one week also raised questions as to Simataa’s influence over the minister.

Simata who was previously employed by SSC is said to hold a personal grudge against the SSC, as he was denied a severance package when he left the organisation, because he had moved on to another job on his own accord.

The Windhoek Observer has now learnt that the minister has requested board members to submit in writing reasons why she should retain them until the end of their tenure next year.

The board was expected to make their submissions before 12h00 on Thursday.

Some belief that Sioka’s latest position is to avoid lengthy legal battles and to make it appear as if she had given the board an opportunity to reply to her ultimatum before dismissing them.

Contacted for comment the mobile number of PS Simata was unreachable.

Simataa is not new to controversies and his tenure at the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication was marred by endless disputes over internal staff issues and tenders.

Chairman’s payment

Also reports that SSC board chairman Rick Kukuri had been overpaid on his retainer and sitting allowance appears to have blown out of proportion.

In October 2011 before consultations with the Finance Minister regarding Kukuri’s fee increases, then Minister of Labour Immanual Ngatjizeko approached Deloitte and Touche for advice and confirmation on the retainer fee and sitting allowance for board members and non –executive directors of SOEs.

Following the findings of the report Ngatjizeko then proceeded to consult with the Finance Minister, who also approved that Kukuri be remunerated on a tier three scale.

Kukuri’s re-appointment that came with his increase was only affected in March 2012, which explains the vast difference between N$186,174.67 and N$ 611 519.75.

Reports in a local weekly questioning the sitting allowance and retainer fee of Kukuri are not new, as Sioka and Kukuri had been debating the matter for some month now.

In a letter dated 30 September 2013 Sioka put in writing that Kukuri has been over paid and that according to the directives regarding the remuneration levels issued by the State Owned Enterprises Governing Council Act of 2006.

Minister Sioka when approach for comment said that she did not want to be drawn into the SSC debacle at this stage.

“It has come to my attention that you are being remunerated as chairperson of the Social Security Commission, at an incorrect level with respect to your retainer fee and sitting allowance,” Sioka said.

She further remarked that Kukuri had been receiving sitting allowances for attending meetings and consultations that should be covered by his annual retainer fee and that repayment would be arranged.

In response Kukuri made reference to the fact that although the SSC has not been reclassified from a second to a third tier SOE, at the time of his re-appointment the terms of his remuneration were signed off by the then Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko.

“With due respect, I cannot agree that my remuneration as chairperson is incorrect, and as a result I was over paid.”

“I note your reference to the directives promulgated in August 2010 setting out the remuneration of non-executive directors, however these directives as they state are not cast in stone,” he wrote.

He further told the minister that after the consultations with Deloitte and the Finance Minister at the end of 2011, his remuneration was raised to the upper quartile.

“I humbly request that the remuneration received by myself to date be considered legally paid, and that any future remuneration be so paid until re-negotiated and agreed upon different terms,” Kukuri concluded.
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