Scramble for NWR top job

09 January 2014 Author  

front nwr 10 janThe long-awaited appointment of a Managing Director for the beleaguered Government-owned Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) has been thrown back into limbo again. The Windhoek Observer understands that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism under which the NWR resorts, was given an ambiguous recommendation which did not specify who the preferred candidate by the board was.

The Observer learnt from those close the process that the Acting MD Zelna Hengari came out tops in the interviews, but the recommendation forwarded to the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, did not contain explicit information of who should be appointed.

Also, some members of the board allegedly went out of their way to paint a picture of an organisation in crisis about NWR and called on the entire recruitment process for the MD to start from scratch.

All this was allegedly done to sway the minister from appointing Hengari and lately it has come to light that some board members have also shown interest in the position.

NWR had been without a substantive MD following the controversial departure of its former MD, Tobie Aupindi in 2011.

Herunga confirmed to the Windhoek Observer this week that the appointing process had been delayed, but assured that he would be announcing his final decision shortly.

“There are some loose ends that still need to be tied up and this is what I’m working on. It’s important to ensure that the correct procedures have been followed when appointing such a person,” Herunga said.

The Environment Minister further stressed that he was the one dealing with the matter, and that once he had finalised the process he would forward the name of the successful candidate to Cabinet for endorsement.

“I’m not saying that it’s Hengari, but I don’t want to say too much at this point,” he concluded.

Contacted for comment regarding the delays in announcing the appointment of the MD, the NWR board chairperson Lea Namoloh said she had no idea how far the process was.

“I have no idea, and don’t know what you are talking about. The Minister is the appointing authority you would have to speak to him,” Namoloh said.

Before she could be asked whether she is one of the board members interested in the position, Namoloh put the phone down in a hurry, referring all inquiries to the minister.

If it is true that Namoloh is eyeing the position, it would throw the NWR in a similar quandary as its sister parastatal, TransNamib, where a member of the board was appointed as MD after the incumbent was unceremoniously fired.

Titus Haimbili, who was the incumbent at the time, took his case to the Labour Court, which decided that TransNamib paid out the remainder of his contract.

News that the board had forwarded the name of a suitable candidate to the minister, and that Hengari had been tipped for the MD position had been reported about nine months ago.

Since April last year it appears the minister had been stuck with making a decision between the board’s ambiguous recommendation and those lobbying behind the scenes for the top job.

It has further been alleged that the NWR board chair went as far as to write a letter to the State Owned Enterprises Governance Council (SOEGC), highlighting the sensitive nature of the position and the high professional requirements expected of the candidate.

This is said to have been done in the hope of discouraging Hengari to be confirmed in the position. However it remains unclear, who the more suited candidate is.

Since the departure of Aupindi in 2011, the tourism parastatal had only been served by acting MDs such as Nghidinua Daniel, who at the time was the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Daniel was seconded from the Ministry of Trade to serve as acting MD for a year.

He was then succeeded by NWR’s company secretary Zelna Hengari who has been acting in the capacity of MD for well over a year now.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

Contact Us

Windhoek Observer House
c/o John Meinert & Rossini Street
Windhoek West
Tel: +264 61 411 800
Fax: +264 61 226 098