Scramble over TransNamib’s N$2.4b assets

Knives out for CEO Johny Smith

22 October 2020 | Transport

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

There are internal and external individuals scrambling to use their influence to get payoffs and commissions through TransNamib’s property portfolio, currently worth N$2.4 billion, CEO Johny Smith confirmed.

Smith was responding to Namibian Sun questions on alleged attempts by some members of the TransNamib board to get rid of him.

The board recently wrote a letter to Smith, seen by Namibian Sun, in which it asked him to explain lawsuit losses suffered by the parastatal, among others.

The board also wants answers on million-dollar investigations instituted by TransNamib against staff members and monies invested in projects.

“I was laughing when I saw that letter. They have whipped up a pot of lies. Initially they wanted to institute an investigation against me, but then they realised that they have nothing concrete and now they are demanding answers,” Smith said.

Scrambling for kickbacks

Cabinet recently gave TransNamib the greenlight to sell off its non-core properties in order to raise funds needed to implement strategic plans.

According to insiders, some board members are scrambling to get kickbacks through these agreement deals.

Smith would not confirm this, but said: “Recently it has come to my attention that there are internal and external individuals that are scrambling to use their influence to get payoffs and commissions through the property portfolio”.

It is also alleged that the friction between Smith and his principals in the board started when he put his foot down and objected to the directors’ involvement in procurement matters.

‘No merit’

Asked whether he was leaving TransNamib, Smith said these rumours are untrue and have “no merit”.

“I came to TransNamib to transform the company and create a sustainable company which can add value to its shareholder and the citizens of this country.”

“We are busy with the implementation of the company’s five-year business plan and therefore this is work in progress. That is exactly what I have been doing in the last two and a half years. We cannot fix one wrong with another wrong.

‘Not the first time’

On a letter containing allegations of irregularities by him and his management team, Smith said: “This is not the first time that such letters have circulated in the media and I have come to realise these unfounded allegations for what they truly are, which is a tool to distract the executive team from doing the work that we are supposed to do”.

Before his tenure, “TransNamib was a company where sometimes procedures were not followed and some people illegally benefitted from that disorder to the detriment of the company and the shareholder”, Smith said.

“One of the biggest areas that we had to focus on was to put systems and structures in place to improve our operating conditions and for TransNamib to attract new business for the company.

“At TransNamib, we remain focused on growing and developing the company and in doing so, we have to ensure that corporate governance procedures are adhered to and that whatever we do is in the interest of the company and its shareholder.”

“Any wrong practices will not be allowed at TransNamib as we cannot allow the company to move backwards to serving the personal interests of individuals and not those of the shareholder and ultimately the citizens of our country,” Smith said.

TransNamib board chairperson, Advocate Sigrid Tjijorokisa, declined to comment on the matter.

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