Air Nam’s ‘weekend special’ board speaks out

15 February 2021 | Transport

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Barely a week before it announced the liquidation of the country’s beleaguered airline, the government appointed a three-member board of directors who served less than 72 hours.

The board was initially appointed to serve for six months, from 5 February to 4 August 2021.

The government last week denied claims that the three board members were removed because President Hage Geingob was not satisfied with the composition of the board.

According to former Air Namibia board chairman Norman Tjombe, his appointment and the rescindment did not come as a surprise because he had been consulted by public enterprise minister Leon Jooste.

However, there were no specific instructions other than a briefing about the financial status of the airline and the intentions of government.

“We met with interim CEO Theo Mberirua to discuss what needs to be put in place. As a board we would have then met the stakeholders, including the employees, unions and management to discuss the issues further in light of the precarious financial status of the company,” said Tjombe.

Tjombe also said he was also fully aware of the government’s decision to liquidate Air Namibia and he was informed by Jooste that instead of a board of directors, government employees would be appointed to serve as directors.

“This is to save on cost as the airline would then be liquidated making the appointment of external persons as directors nugatory. It was not an unreasonable decision to reconstitute the board, which will be fairly temporary in view of the pending liquidation, and I support it fully,” said Tjombe.

Several meetings

Another board member, Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, also said they had several meetings with the government to assess the situation and how it could be addressed.

She was appointed as the deputy chair.

“While there was a focus on a specific mandate, we really wanted to understand the business for what it was. I was not given reasons for why they overturned the decision to appoint us as board members, but there was a discussion of the composition of the board,” she said.

According to her, she was informed of this late afternoon after closing of business.

“In terms of work done. Yes, we had scenario meetings with the managing director on Tuesday afternoon and discussed the eventualities of the business and what would be the practical things for Air Namibia to perform.

“Today (Thursday) we would be at Air Namibia for the whole day for meetings. We have established a good understanding of the affairs of Air Namibia, about the issues they face, the liabilities and the assets of the company,” she said.

The third board member, James Cummings, declined to comment.

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