Naanda hits back

07 November 2014 Author  

Front Naanda 07 NovSUSPENDED TransNamib Managing Director Sara Naanda has not only challenged her suspension through her lawyers, but has also reported the turnaround project manager Johan Piek to immigration authorities.

In a letter dated 31 October 2014 to the Chairman of the TransNamib board Peter Oosthuizen, Naanda’s lawyer Richard Metcalf accuses the board of having acted in bad faith.

Metcalf charges that the board had already taken the decision to suspend Naanda when it invited her to make representations about its intention to suspend her.

“It is cogently clear that a decision had already been made prior to 27 October 2014 to suspend Ms Naanda.

“You are requested to provide our offices with the relevant Board of Director’s minutes authorising you to inform our client that the board had decided to suspend Ms Naanda subject to her response to allegations levelled against her.

“Kindly also provide our offices with the minutes of the Board of Directors wherein the Board of Directors considered the ‘representations’ of our client and decided to suspend her on 30 October 2014,” Metcalf wrote.

In an email dated 27 October 2014 in which Oosthuizen copied in all board members, he informed Naanda of the charges brought against her.

These included failure, refusal and hindrance of the implementation of the 180-day turnaround strategy plan, by refusing to implement the clear instruction by the board to facilitate the open flow of information to Piek.

Oosthuizen further alleged that Naanda went as far as instructing staff not to implement board directives accusing her of victimising staff seeking to implement the board’s directives.

In response to the mail, Naanda states that no one can hold her responsible for the failure or refusal to implement the 180-day turnaround strategy as the board assigned that responsibility to Piek, who reports directly to the board.

She further notes that on 21 October she handed over documents to Piek that he signed off personally, highlighting that she gave instruction to some of her team not to provide documents directly to Piek in order to avoid duplication.

“I am not aware of any instruction given by the board to staff as alleged and as a result, I could not instruct staff not to implement Board Directives. The same applies to the allegation of victimisation of staff,” Naanda wrote.

The letter from Metcalf further alleges that Piek’s work permit authorises his employment at RMB Namibia and that the board had obtained no authorisation in terms of Section 27 of the Immigration Control Act of 1993 for Piek’s employment at TransNamib.

Similarly, Metcalf further highlights that Oosthuizen’s work permit allows the Roads Construction Company (RCC) in Namibia to employ him as a Group General Manager.

He charges again that the board obtained no authorisation in terms of the Immigration Act for his employment as Chairperson of the TransNamib board, nor does it allow the board to appoint him as the Acting CEO of the RCC.

Metcalfe forwarded a copy of this letter to the minister as well permanent secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to allow for further investigation into the matter.

Yet another major issue in question, according to Metcalf, is the salary at which TransNamib appointed Piek, which proves that by appointing Piek the board aimed at the constructive dismal of Naanda.

According to the State Owned Enterprise Governance Act 2 of 2006, the maximum salary Piek is entitled to as Senior Manager at a Tier 3 SOE is N$ 872,653.00 annually, but Piek will rake in an annual salary of N$2.2 million.

“Mr Piek has been remunerated on the Chief Executive’s Officers Remuneration Band, and your new appellation of Piek as a “Turnaround Executive Project Manager Consultant, portrays, you are well aware of, the illegal appointments of Piek as an employ at TransNamib.

“Your project professional spin of this appointment and the corporate hop-scotch which you indulge in are rather pathetic for a person with your experience and education,” Metcalf writes.

When it announced the appointment of Piek some weeks back, the board said he would focus on the revival of the 12 GE locomotives, support the human capital restructuring process, as well as address the operational shortfall and TransNamib’s long-standing debt.

Naanda’s lawyers conclude by demanding very specific actions from the TransNamib board, which include:

i) Terminate the illegal employment of Mr Piek within 48 hours of receipt of this correspondence; and

ii) Lift our client’s contrived suspension and/or negotiate a termination of her employment as per her contract of employment.

Last week Secretary General of the Swapo Party Youth League Elijah Ngurare questioned the suspension of Naanda.

He requested the line Minister Erkki Nghimtina to withdraw the appointment of the white consultant and to allow the substantive CEO to do her contractual work unhindered.

“Is there a white cartel in TransNamib which wants to reclaim lost glory?

“To believe that 24 years after independence, only whites can turn around Air Namibia, TransNamib, NWR, NamWater or any parastatal for that matter is an insult to numerous young black professionals, telling them unfortunately they are not good enough,” Ngurare said.

In an interview on Thursday, Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina stood his ground stating that he only focused on an individual’s ability to perform and deliver, and not the colour of their skin.

“Some people are here trying to divide the nation and they should firstly look to the Namibian Constitution and what it says regarding racial issues.

“These individuals are non-starters, in reality we are focused on people who deliver, full stop,” Nghimtina said.

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