Public Enterprises minister, Leon Jooste has come out in support of the beleaguered Fishcor board, amid mounting tension between it and the company’s management.
The minister’s support comes as the fishing company’s managers in a scathing letter leaked to the media in which the minister was copied in, accused the interim board of malfeasance. They claimed that board members Social Security Commission Executive officer Milka Mungunda, lawyer Ruth Herunga, Mihe Goamab II and Penny Hiwilepo-Hal directly interfere in the day-to-day operations of the company.
“This Board was appointed to an institution with a multitude of complex, intricate legacy issues to deal with. They are bringing positive change and the question should be: why are some people resisting such positive change? The Board has my full support,” Jooste told the Windhoek Observer.
Fishcor Chairperson, Mihe Goamab II in response to the allegations raised by the fishing company management, put the blame for the company woes solely on the managers.
“As Board Members, we have been exercising our fiduciary duty with care and understanding. We intend to assess and implement decisive actions on the strategic, operational, financial and commercial interests of Fishcor. Our view is to turn around the company which has many current challenges. The current Fishcor difficulties are not attributed to their “incompetence” but has [been a result of] decisions made by management that has put Fishcor in a very precarious and perilous state,” he said.
“The managers have also engaged in long term bound contractual obligations of a domestic and foreign exchange rate nature. This has hugely indebted Fishcor to the extent that it would take a comprehensive rescue package and a turnaround strategy (that we are occupied with as a board) to rescue the precarious financial position of Fishcor and to correct the inefficient management of the corporation.”
Goamab II said the company was still unable to recruit a substantive Chief Executive Officer as Mike Nghipunya who was suspended by the company last year and subsequently arrested in connection with the Fishrot corruption scandal, remains an employee of the company.
“Our ability to appoint a substantive CEO to date has been compromised by the fact that the current CEO who is incarcerated, has not been officially relieved of his duties in the interest of the business. He is clearly unable to run the company on a day-to-day basis. However, he has opted to hold on to the position and influence managers associated with the past running of the corporation.
“This seriously hampers the operations of Fishcor as we are unable to appoint someone substantive. However, we have resolved as a Board to soon to fill the position on an interim basis,” he said.
The Fishcor chairperson said the company was in the process of reviewing options that will allow it to proceed with a replacement for Nghipunya.
“We will, on a parallel basis, explore avenues available for appointing a substantive CEO in a transparent process. We can do this only once we have fully exhausted the legal route in accordance to the labour law to appoint a CEO. Such process has reached its maturity and very soon we will complete the process diligently and procedurally in accordance to HR and labour law policies,” he said.
Fishcor is accused of allowing itself to be used as a conduit to illegally funnel millions out of the fishing industry.
This was allegedly done by its accused former Board Chairman and CEO, James Hatuikulipi and Mike Nghipunya in a web that is believed to be wide-reaching.
Fishcor is the holding company of Seaflower Whitefish and Seaflower Lobster. Seaflower Lobster is owned fully by Fishcor while Seaflower Whitefish is owned 78 percent by Fishcor and 22 percent by the Governors’ Trust. Seaflower Whitefish operates in the hake industry and has a processing facility in Lüderitz, while Seaflower Lobster is the only company with an operating factory for lobster processing in Namibia.