Favouritism allegations rock NIDA CEO appointment

Staff Writer

It has emerged that Cabinet ignored recommendations from the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (NIDA) board in the appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

According to insiders, the NIDA board, chaired by former Nedbank Managing Director, Lionel Mathews, had recommended Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) Deputy Executive Director, Michael Humavindu, for the top job.

The board’s decision is alleged to have been ignored by Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste, who is said, with the support of Cabinet to have pushed through for the appointment of former African Development Bank (AfDB) Executive Director, Heinrich Mihe Goamab ll, who was appointed on 1 May. According to sources, Goamab ll failed his psychometric test for the post.

When contacted for comment, Mathews could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, stating that the decision that Cabinet made for the post was final.

Quizzed on whether the decision by Cabinet had circumvented a recommendation by the board to appoint Humavindu, who was largely accepted by the board as the more qualified for the position, Mathews said, “That is irrelevant. The board has decided to appoint Mr Mihe for the post. That decision has been taken and it is final.”

Jooste denied the allegations that he and Cabinet had pushed through for Goamab ll’s appointment. “This is incorrect. Mr Gaomab did not fail the psychometric test and the test did not form part of the scoring for the position. Mr. Gaomab achieved the highest score during the CEO evaluation/selection process. The NIDA board is perfectly aligned to the preferred candidate – you are welcome to contact the NIDA Chair to verify.”

NIDA was founded in 2018, established in terms of Act 16 of 2016, to advance Namibia’s industrialisation agenda in line with the country’s policies and developmental strategies, such as the Growth at Home Strategy, Harambee Prosperity Plan and 5th Namibia Development Plan (NDP5).

NIDA is a commercial State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) resorting under the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, of which Humavindu is the Deputy ED.

In September last year, Jooste fired the entire board of NIDA, consisting of lawyer Frans Kwala, Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Job Muniaro, Diana van Schalkwyk, Koos van Staden and Uparura Kuvare, who had also served as the SOE’s executive director then, amidst allegations of irregularities.

Goamab ll, who previously served as the CEO of Namibia Competition Commission from its inception and became the Executive Director of the African Development Bank Group from 2016 until 2019, had been without a substantive post since returning from Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 2019.

He has since his return been appointed as board Chairperson of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Last year he was also named as Chairperson of the beleaguered Fishcor. He also serves as a board director for the Namibia Institute of Corporate Governance (NICG).

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