Andrew Kathindi and Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

The Social Security Commisison (SSC) Board has revealed that it discarded its own succession plan and never considered any other potential candidates.

This was before renewing the contract of Executive Officer, Milka Mungunda, for another five years. The appointment is despite Mungunda having turned 61 in February this year. According to SSC Board Chairperson, Dr Dawid /Uirab, it received and reviewed formally a draft Succession Plans for the role of the EO, but opted to stick with Mungunda instead, who will be 66 at the end of her contract, which expires in 2026.

“The Commission is however at a critical point of implementing critical strategic business enterprise, customer-centric and digital business systems, which should not change hands at this sensitive point in the journey,” /Uirab said.

He further argued that while most civil servants are bound by the Pension Fund Rules, which governs permanent employees to retire at the age of 60, fixed term contracts, including those of the SSC, are excluded from the GIPF Pension Fund Rules.

According to the Board chair, all fixed term employees of the SSC may thus all work until the age of 65, as they are not limited by any Pension Fund Rules. This was done “subsequently due to an industry change, Exco Members of all Public Enterprise have been contracted on Five Years, which is renewable. It was a gradual industry change in 2013 or 2014 when all State Owned Enterprises migrated to five year contracts for EXCO members.”

Why the Board, whose term was ending at the end of the month decided to take such a long term commitment decision for the Commission, /Uirab stated, “The existing Board has a fiduciary accountability to ensure that the Commission is not left without legally appointed leadership until the last day of their term.”

The Board worked with Mungunda for three of the five years.

“The Board was obligated to Review the Five Year Performance of the EO against the Minister approved Strategic Business Plans; and gave notice of either renewal or not of the EO contract, in writing, before 31 March 2021. This was all within the mandate of the current Board.”

However, it has emerged that the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation does not have power to circumvent the Board’s decision.According to the Ministry’s Executive Director, Bro-Mathew Shinguadja, the Minister only gets informed once a decision has already been taken by the Board.

“The Minister may refuse, but that does not say when he refuses what happens. He just has to be consulted, whether he agrees or not. The consultation is just to let you know and inform you. Whether you agree with me or don’t agree with me, as long as I have consulted you. It doesn’t go further to say that the Minister can reverse, he cannot reverse.”

On why the EO’s position was not advertised to ensure that there are other qualified candidates, Shinguadja said that he is not aware why.

“I don’t know, they can say that even if the EO was going to be reappointed they are going to advertise or they can say no, there is no need, why should we fool the public, if we are going to reappoint this person.”

He pointed to SSC’s subsidy response to COVID-19 last year, and the maternal shelters built in the north as reason enough to appoint the EO despite her age.

President Hage last week re-appointed Mugunda to the Public Office-Bearers Commission (POBC), an office she will hold until March 2024, when she is 64.Part of the functions of the POBC relate to the remuneration, benefits and other conditions of office of public office-bearers.