Sioka threatens SSC board

27 March 2014 Author  

front Sioka 28 marTHE MINISTER of Labour and Social Welfare has threatened to take former board members of the Social Security Commission (SSC) to court if they refuse to pay back money they allegedly used to overcompensate themselves for sitting fees. In an interview on Monday Doreen Sioka said that her office would demand that board members pay back portions of the money, and failure to do so would result in her taking legal action against the board. Sioka stuck to her guns regarding the allegation that board members were either overcharging, or charging the commission sitting fees when they had not even met.

She further told this paper that another major concern was the N$1.5 million the board spent on legal fees for the disciplinary action taken against Chief Executive Officer Kapara Tjivikua.

The minister was reluctant to go into further details about the progress on retrieving the funds of the commission, stating that she would make a public statement once the ministry had concluded the matter.

If Sioka goes ahead with her plans it would be the first time a minister takes legal action against an entire board of directors.

She did however, reveal that certain board members not only showed resistance to the authority of her office at the time she requested their resignations but also that they were extremely disrespectful.

“One of them came here and told me to my face that the tail of a dog can never control the dog and that I was the tail of the dog in this instance,” she said.

Contacted for comment, former SSC board member representing the Namibian Financial Institutions Union (NAFINU) Asnath Zamuee appeared worried by the situation.

“I am highly perturbed by the state of affairs at the ministry. Clearly, this is a confused minister who doesn’t know what is going on around her,” Zamuee said.

She said that she knew nothing of the minister’s plans to force board members to reimburse the commission for sitting allowances paid over a year ago.

“She is caught up in her own delusional world or perhaps she needs a mental evaluation. I’m unconcerned about her decision to sue the board. Let her go ahead if this is her only chance at re-election,” she said.

Zamuee continued to remark that the minister’s intention was laughable.

“Her obsession with the Social Security Commission is just a cheap strategy to divert attention away from her incompetence and inadequacy as a minister,” she said.

In her view, Sioka had done nothing meaningful since her appointment as Minister of Labour.

“The ministry is faced with serious challenges such as unemployment, labour unrest, poverty etc and she is unresponsive to that, but yet she has time for nonsensical issues,” Zamuee concluded.

Connie Pandeni another former board member nominated to the board by National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) also said that she had not heard that the minister had intentions of that nature.

“This is news to me. I am out of town and have not heard anything like that. Therefore, I cannot comment on something I do not have full insight on,” Pandeni said.

Pandeni also remarked that she had not attended any meetings with other former board members to discuss the matters, and therefore did not have an opinion on the matter until she received something from Sioka in black and white.

The newspaper could not reach former board chairperson Rick Kukuri for comment all week.

While introducing the new board at an event held at the Daan Viljoen resort outside Windhoek at the end of January this year Sioka said that she had taken action to remove eight members of the previous Social Security Commission, including its chairperson.

“The other two members had already resigned voluntarily at my request,” she said.

The Labour Minister explained that she dismissed the board for several reasons, one of them being the indefinite suspension of the SSC chief executive officer on unspecified grounds of “serious misconduct” late last year.

She further remarked in her statement that despite the obvious gap left by the board members the ministry had managed to ensure the smooth operation of the Social Security Commission.

“I exercised my powers in the absence of commissioners only when necessary, but left other issues for consideration by the new commissioners,” she added.
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