Board compels Namdia CEO to refund company

Apart from punishment meted out against the CEO, there are strong indications that the board has no appetite to renew contracts of any of Namdia’s executives.

23 June 2021 | Labour

MATHIAS HAUFIKU

WINDHOEK

The Namibia Desert Diamonds’ (Namdia) board of directors has issued the company’s CEO Kennedy Hamutenya with a final written warning and directed him to refund N$210 000 which he approved as payment to a diamond dealer whose contract with the company had lapsed.

The board, according to impeccable sources, does not intend to renew Hamutenya’s contract when it ends next year, therefore deductions will be split equally amongst the remaining months on his contract.

With the ongoing discord between the Namdia board and management, the controversial diamond entity is set to have a completely new leadership by July 2022.

This is after it has emerged that the board will not renew the contracts of the executive managers when they lapse.

Namdia insiders say it is unlikely that any of the executive management members will have their contracts renewed due to acrimonious relations between that team and the board.

The Bryant Eiseb-led board is apparently not impressed with the manner in which the affairs of the company are being handled.

Indications of a revamp surfaced recently after the company’s CEO, Hamutenya, and head of finance Sven von Blottnitz received final warnings following a disciplinary hearing after they were found guilty of gross insubordination.

They allegedly failed to comply with board instructions and made a payment of N$210 000 to diamond dealer Neil Haddock after his contract with the company had lapsed.

With a year left on his contract, the former diamond commissioner will have to part with at least N$16 000 a month to settle the debt.

“They were found guilty and the board ordered that the money paid to Haddock must be deducted from the CEO’s salary,” said a source privy to the matter.

Responding this week to questions around the disciplinary process, Namdia board chairperson Bryant Eiseb said “the matter is private”.

“Namdia disciplinary policy makes disciplinary interventions a private matter and we respect the privacy of any employee in this matter. We would also like to emphasise that this in an internal matter,” Eiseb said,

Hamutenya’s and Von Blottnitz’s five-year contracts are set to lapse in July 2022.

Namdia has over the years tried to shed its image of a dubious diamond dealing entity that uses opaque methods to undersell diamonds.

The company’s head of human resource and administration, Irvin Haihambo, will be the first one to exit after tendering his resignation recently, almost a year before his contract lapses. He will leave at the end of next month.

It is unclear if his decision to throw in the towel is linked to the strained relationship between the board and management.

So far, Namibian Sun is aware of two management members who will have to reapply for their jobs.

These include the head of sales and marketing, Lelly Usiku, whose contract runs out at the end of August 2021 while head of security Clarky McKay’s contract ends in January 2022.

The duo has been told to reapply for their positions, but all indications are that they will not be renewed. This is despite Hamutenya having recommended to the board that the contracts of Usiku and McKay be renewed, this request was declined.

Hamutenya refused to comment when contacted yesterday saying “this matter is beyond my scope, please approach the board”.

He would also not say if he would reapply for his position when it lapses next year.

Company insiders indicated that the board has instituted a restructuring process to clip the wings of management.

“Lelly Usiku’s and Clarky MCKays Contracts are not being renewed despite being veterans and founders of a company that has performed excellently financially. Why is a restructuring exercise being linked to the decision to extend their contracts?” questioned a source.

The source also accused the Namdia board of being “overly involved in operational issues and meddling at every corner”.

“What is management paid to do if they are meddling every day in the running of the company? There is a deliberate syndicate to purge management since it seems that the board came with the mission to get rid of management,” the source questioned.

Sources said claims of management purges in the company are inaccurate and mainly propagated by senior officials who are against the board’s push to turn the company into a more transparent entity.

This theory was confirmed by another source close to the inner workings of the company who said it was unlikely that the board would impose a witch-hunt on performing officials.

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