All aboard the gravy train

09 November 2018 | Columns

Telecom Namibia is the latest company to ride the gravy train, following revelations this week that the communications firm paid its executives over N$2.5 million in unapproved bonuses. The Confidente reported this week that Telecom Namibia paid its CEO Theo Klein N$618 012, while company secretary Jinah Buys pocketed around N$200 000. Other executives that benefited handsomely are chief mobile officer Armando Penny (N399 940), chief operations officer Laban Hiwilepo (N$401 133) and chief commercial officer Calvin Muniswaswa, who received a staggering N$531 250 bonus. Bonuses, according to the report, were also paid out to HR chief Holger Sircoulomb (N$103 671), while Alisa Amupolo of Powercom got N$232 284. The news about Telecom's huge payouts follows hot on the heels of reports confirming that the Namdia board of directors pocketed hefty sitting fees totalling N$8 million in the last two financial years. While it is not the first time that state-owned enterprises have been caught out boarding the gravy train, the latest case is truly outrageous; more so especially when taxpayers are kept in the dark all the time. The principle is that taxpayers' money should be accounted for and the general public has the right to know how much is spent on whom and on what. Do our already highly paid executives working for state-owned enterprises deserve these huge bonuses, considering the widespread poverty in our country? It is also difficult to comprehend how the Telecom management can justify such huge rewards for their top executives, when there are serious questions about the company's alleged poor service delivery. It is blatantly obvious there is an entrenched and unrelenting sense of entitlement from those who are supposed to lead by example. It is also clear as daylight that our economy is struggling at the moment and even ordinary Namibians have tightened their belts, in the context of being prudent. Why can't these powerful people do the same?