Tjongarero not bothered by ultimatum

Obrein Simasiku

The Minister of Youth, Sport and National Services, Anges Tjongarero has broken her silence in the Namibia Sports Commission debacles, saying it is time to clean the commission and the entire sports fraternity.

“This time around no mercy whatsoever, I am cleaning the whole sector, enough is enough. However, the focus will be more on building and transforming the sports sector for it to flourish more than ever,” she said, when questioned regarding tensions within NSC and the ministry at large.

She said this to the Windhoek Observer when asked about the sacking of five board members, who now through their lawyer Norman Tjombe demanded that the Minister retract her stated reasons for their firing, as well as tender a public apology. Tjongarero was given until Wednesday (yesterday) to meet the demands. She remains steadfast and refuses to give in.

“My stance remains, had they done their work there would be no push and push, and court battles. It was simple, just do your work accordingly as instructed, but they chose otherwise. However, I will not indulge much on the issues, because it’s being handled by my lawyers. But, certainly I am taking drastic measures going forward,” she stressed, saying improvement of sports is her task ahead.

Tjongarero fired board members, Joel Matheus, Linda Dumba-Chicalu, Karen Mubonenwa, Thomas Mbeeli and Niklaus Nghumono, for alleged insubordination for defying a directive not to renew the chief administrator, Freddy Mwiya contract, as well as refusing to advertise the position. They were axed on May 24, while their three-year contract was supposed to end on 13 June.

Another reason was the board’s decision to increase Mwiya’s salary, against the wishes of the minister.

The salary was adjusted to N$1 229 503 per annum, despite remuneration guidelines and the classification of SOEs stating that the total package of the chief administrator cannot exceed N$900 000 per year.

The board members who indicated their unwillingness to be reinstated neither re-appointed, sought recourse from Tjongarero claiming defamation and humiliation.

Therefore, their lawyer, argued that the reason provided did not warrant a dismissal. Tjongarero said she based her decision on, section 7(2)(b) of the Namibia Sports Act, Act 12 of 2003, in that they [board members] have failed to comply with or contravened provisions of the Namibia Sports Act.

However, Tjombe’s take is that in term of section 23(1) of the Sports Act ‘’once a recommendation for the appointment of the Chief Administrator is submitted to you (minister), you must appoint.”

“The purpose of the decision to remove our clients was to embarrass and defame them. Expressly and through innuendos, the impression is created that our clients have violated the law, cannot be trusted, incompetent, insubordinate, and dishonest, hence their removal. We have demonstrated that the basis of our clients’ removal on those grounds is legally untenable, and therefore unlawful [sic],” the lawyer argued further.

He continued: “in the purported amplification of the grounds of removal of our clients as Commissioners, you referred to the Commission’s “inability” to comply with requests emanating from the appointing authority in relation to the unauthorised increase of the salary of the Chief Administrator, and that the Commission ignored the directive to reverse the increase in the salary. As we stated above, our clients’ contention was always that, in terms of section 23(1) of the Namibia Sports Act, the Minister has no discretion to accept or reject a recommendation to appoint a Chief Administrator. Section 23(1) reads as follows: the Minister must appoint a person as Chief Administrator of the Commission on the recommendation of the Commission.”

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