SoEs ministry refuses to take accountability for five companies without CEO

Martin Endjala

The Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprise has strongly rejected that it is to blame for the current five Public Enterprises that have been without Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors for a lengthy period.

The Ministry Spokesperson Wilson Shikoto said that out of 81 Public Enterprises in the country, five are without CEOs, namely the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), Roads Contractor Company (RCC), Namibian Standards Institution (NSI),AGRIBUSDEV and the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).

Shikoto told the Windhoek Observer that the Board of Directors of the companies are responsible for the appointments of Chief Executive Officers.

“As the shareholder, we communicate and encourage boards to fast-track the recruitment process but as you may have noticed, most of these companies without Chief Executive Officers are where the CEO is on suspension and as such, we need to wait for the disciplinary process or labour case to conclude,” Shikoto added.

The Managing Director of AMTA Lucas Lungameni is currently serving a suspension from 2022, after he was found guilty of eight counts of misconduct, including the disappearance of around N$6,2 million from the national agriculture company on 22 Jan 2023.

Lungameni is accused of irregularities at the entity, including allegations of corruption over the past decade. He denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to defend his case.

The board last year in June appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to conduct an investigation into the company.

The charges Lungameni faces include failing to protect the interests of the company, failing to act with due diligence, breach of trust and gross negligence.

This is according to a local report suggesting that a disciplinary process led by Lawyer Profysen Muluti, dated 14 November 2022, found Lungameni guilty of all eight counts of misconduct.

Meanwhile, the current acting CEO of RCC Maria Nakale is facing backlash from the company’s employees who say they have lost trust in her after she allegedly executed an unfair board decision to cut employee benefits while her salary remained untouched.

This prompted a protest by employees, demanding that she vacates her position. It also emerged that Nakale was pocketing two salaries from the state entity and the Retirement Funds Institute of Namibia (RFIN). In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Nakale denied receiving two salaries and questioned why people were concerned about her employment contracts.

RCC Board Chairman, Eliaser Nekwaya confirmed that although the company has not been operating optimally due to various challenges, its monthly wage bill is approximately N$3 million.

“The Company has entered debt repayment plans with various creditors, with payments being made on a monthly basis. These payments are made through income from the operations of the company,” Nekwaya told this publication.

Meanwhile,Public Service Union (PSUN) Secretary General Mathews Haakuria said that the union holds bargaining powers in both RCC and AMTA, but the recent allegations of a CEO pocketing two jobs, and still appointed is an indication that government is not serious.

“These entities are extensions of government, however, we often see retired persons being recalled back to lead an entity as if there are no internal people who are capable of running the PEs”, Haakuria said.

Furthermore, he said, it is undermining those who are capable of running the entity as well as the public, lamenting that it does not paint a good picture for society to constantly witness dysfunctional government entities.

He however, stressed that Public Enterprises must not be closed down as they create jobs, but urged government to appoint fit and competent men and women to head these entities and not appoint people without the job criteria requirements. He singled out Nakale, who he said is not an engineer but Finance professional.

“How can this even be allowed, why put someone in charge of an engineering company who has no such skills, government also needs to relook at its appointing models”, Haakuria opined.

The PSUN Secretary General, is therefore calling for collective responsibilities, such as government recapitalizing RCC by giving it quotas to build roads instead of Chinese companies.

“We cannot have entities being asked to provide their budgets and balance sheet and just keeps dodging and government plays along, no, they must be held to accountable, and heads must fly if they must too, incompetency must not be allowed”, said the SG.

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