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Cabinet rejects NWR board

04 December 2015 Author   Sonja Angula

front 4 dec 2015 shifeta 2The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta has been left with egg on his face after Cabinet rejected the names he had proposed to be considered as board members of Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR).

Shifeta had proposed that Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) CEO, Bisey /Uirab; Electricity Control Board (ECB) Chief Executive Officer, Foibe Namene;  Namport Board Chairperson Jeremia Muadinohamba, and Namfisa Chairperson Estelle Tjipuka be considered as NWR board members.

The current NWR board’s three-year tenure comes to an end this month.

Without a timely appointment of a new board, NWR may find itself in violation of several laws as a going concern as it might not have a legally constituted governing body.

Minister Shifeta tried to downplay the gaffe when contacted for comment.

 “It [the minister’s list of recommendations] was not rejected, we just realized that the names of people I proposed are already sitting on more than two SOE boards,” Shifeta said in an interview.

 “The law says one person can only serve on two boards at the same time, but I am still verifying everything and making a public announcement on whom exactly is chosen.  I will submit names again, for Cabinet to endorse,”Shifeta said.

The State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Governance Act, 2006 (Act no 2 of 2006) as amended and tabled in June 2015, prohibits people from holding more than two directorships of SOEs at the same time.

Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste confirmed that individuals may not serve on more than two SOE boards at any one time.  

Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa, also confirmed to the Windhoek Observer that Cabinet had rejected the NWR board candidates proposed by Shifeta.

“With regard to the reasons for rejection of the names, I should mention that Cabinet is guided by several factors when considering appointments to boards of SOEs.

“One of the many factors is the suitability of the individual being proposed, particularly with regard to their proven expertise in the line of business of the particular industry. 

“The other important element is the issue of multiple memberships to boards. You will agree with me that multiple board membership limits the ability of directors to make meaningful contributions and creates possible potential conflict of interest,”Simataa said.

None of the originally proposed names has direct experience or expertise in the wildlife, conservation, and hospitality and tourism industry.

NWR is the largest tourism enterprise in the country, employing over 800 staff, welcoming more than 300,000 guests and running more than 25 rest camps and lodges, most of which are situated in National Parks and State Protected Areas.                                                                                                                    

One of the candidates, Namene, said she did not know that she was being considered for a position on the NWR board.

“I was requested by many people to send my CV to the ministry, I did not know if it was for the NWR’s board chair. I also do not know whether it was rejected or not.”

A lawyer by profession, Namene worked for six years at the then Government Attorneys Office before joining Nampower as a Legal Advisor where she rose through the ranks to the position of General Manager, Energy Trading.

“On many occasions, a lot of people request my CV and I do not have knowledge of what they are going to use it for,” Namene said.

Muadinohamba said he is not privy to Cabinet discussions and thus will not comment on its deliberations.

“I am Chair of the Namport Board for over five years now and will retire from the Board end of September next year. I am only prepared to serve two terms. I am also Vice Chair of Standard Bank and have served for over seven years now. I am also on the NIPAM board and serve as the Chair of the Audit Committee, my appointment to that ends next year,” Muadinohamba said.

“I serve on the pleasure and invitation of the shareholder (cabinet) and I have continued to do so with diligence. The success of Namport and many other public enterprises can attest to my leadership abilities and competencies,” Muadinohamba said when asked if it is not too much for him to serve on multiple boards.

“I get approached by various ministers and I cannot share with the media the nature and content of the discussions - safe to say I have discussed the NWR board selection with Minister of Public Enterprises and Minister of Tourism,” Muadinohamba explained.

Tjipuka, who is a founding member of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)’s Forensic Services Department told the Windhoek Observer that she is not aware about her “appointment.”

“I have not been contacted by anyone regarding the NWR’s board membership, I also cannot reveal information whether I’d want to sit if approached,” she said.

WINDHOEK OBSERVER

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.

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