I have failed – Sam Shivute . . . as employees demand NHE CEO exit

Kandjemuni Kamuiiri and Rose-Mary Haufiku

National Housing Enterprise (NHE) Board Chairperson, Sam Shivute, has admitted failure in providing low cost housing.

The admittance by the recently appointed NamRA Commissioner comes as the NHE is in crisis over the Board’s decision to renew Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Gisbertus Mukulu’s term for another five years amid allegations of incompetence. The former Okahao Town council CEO was appointed in 2016 without Cabinet’s approval, amidst assertion that former Omusati Governor, former Local Government minister, and current Swapo Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, had a hand in the appointment.

“Yes, we did not build the 1250 houses but that is not enough reason not to renew the contract,” said Shivute, following a crisis meeting with NHE employees who took issue with the Board’s handling of the parastatal.

“I did not get land, I couldn’t build in the air, I take that responsibility and my appointing authority will deal with me in regards to that. That’s always how it works, not the middle management dealing with me because that’s not how it works. Let my appointing authority be the one to deal with me. I committed that and I failed as a leader.”

According to Shivute, the law provides for the renewal of the CEO’s contract, stating that Mukulu reduced NHE’s debt.

The Board’s decision has caused ructions in the entity, amid calls for the board and the CEO to step down. The decision was so unpopular with the NHE employees that a press conference, scheduled to answer some of the employees’ pressing concerns on Tuesday, had to be moved to Shivute’s private offices, rather than NHE’s Boardroom.

The NHE management accused the CEO of being highly indecisive, and that he routinely procrastinates decisions, which frustrates the operations of the NHE.

“Our biggest concern is, despite the poor performance of the company for all the five years, the chairperson has just announced the CEO’s contract has been renewed. The two ministers (Erastus Uutoni and Leon Jooste) must answer, how did it happen that they were satisfied with the performance of this CEO despite all these things?,” NHE Company Secretary, Ntelamo Ntelamo, said.

On whether the company is financially stable, NHE IT Manager, Chris Baisako, said, “Technically we are bankrupt.”

“Two months back, we were told that the company is financially stable, and that we should not have anything to panic about. But today in the meeting with us the chairperson (Shivute) said the company is not financially stable, which means he is contradicting himself,” Baisako told Windhoek Observer.

Shivute and fellow Board director, Oscar Capelao, whom the NHE employees labelled as compromised due to their positions at NamRa and First National Bank (FNB) were, however, adamant that they would not step down from their positions, despite their admittance.

Capelao is employed as the Chief Financial Officer of FirstRand Namibia, the owners of FNB Bank, which the staff have labelled as a direct competitor to the NHE as they also provide mortgage finance.

The FirstRand CFO rubbished claims that he was conflicted as an NHE Board director. “We do not serve the same sector and portion of the value chain.”

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