Jooste rules out Shivute’s NHE return …as an investigation is ordered

Kandjemuni Kamuiiri, Andrew Kathindi

National Housing Enterprise (NHE) Board Chairperson, Sam Shivute, will not be reappointed when his term is up, Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, has revealed.

The revelation by the minister comes with Shivute admitting failure at the company but resisting calls by NHE staff to stepdown as the company Chairperson, citing his imminent departure to the Namibia Revenue Agency ( NamRA) as its head. “The board’s term will expire in about two months and the current Chair will not be considered due to his appointment at NAMRA,” Jooste said.

The minister, however, said long-term decisions taken by Shivute, such as his reappointment of the housing enterprise’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gisbertus Mukulu, for the next five years, will not be reviewed, despite his due departure.

“Decisions taken by the Board as a collective up to date stand, unless the new Board want to review and revoke any. The CEO has already been appointed and can only be removed according to the provisions of the Labour Act and the NHE HR policy.”

Mukulu’s contract renewal has not gone down well with NHE staff, a move which earlier this month led to the suspension of four senior managers.

The SOEs Minister said his ministry had appointed a committee to investigate the merits of the decision by Mukulu to suspend four senior managers.

These developments, which has been viewed as a reprisal after the four managers questioned Mukulu’s competence to continue leading the company, comes as Jooste had earlier admitted that the suspension had not been sanctioned by the ministry.

“Our principle is to always act in the best interest of the entity, not that of an individual (or a group of individuals). If there is merit to warrant a suspension, and it is in the best interest of the entity due to the particular issues, we will approve. If it is seen to be of a punitive nature or that an investigation can be conducted without suspending the person, we will not approve. This is why our officials are currently looking into the merits of this case,” the minister said.

Jooste in 2019 issued a directive that before a CEO or member of senior management is suspended, the Minister of Public Enterprises and the line minister must be consulted to have some sort of insight on why people want to suspend.

On whether he had held talks with the NHE board over the situation at the enterprise, which is tasked with providing low cost housing, Jooste said, ““we have had several consultations with the Board, the affected members and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development to discuss the matter.”

“We held a meeting with Hon Erastus Uutoni and the Board members, and we agreed to have a technical committee look into the matter and to make recommendations to us for further consideration.”

According to Jooste, the technical committee, which will recommend the way forward, consists of officials of the Ministry of Public Enterprises (MPE) and Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD), under the authority of the two executive directors (EDs).

NHE employees have questioned the renewal of the CEO’s contract by the company board for another five years, citing his incompetence and called for some board members, including Chairperson Sam Shivute, to step down, citing a conflict of interest.

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