Boards key to public enterprises

17 September 2019 | Government

Appointing the right board members is pivotal in the success of any public enterprise, says the minister of public enterprises, Leon Jooste.

Jooste was speaking in an interview with Namibian Sun after a public enterprises conference concluded at Swakopmund on Friday.

“If we can get one thing right, that would be to appoint the right board members. We would literally solve most of our problems. If we manage to appoint quality board members who are highly skilled, with the right personality traits and integrity, and who have that same culture, it will always filter down to the institution,” he said.

“A board like that with solid credibility would not want to fail and would not allow that entity to fail.

“They would make sure that they appoint a very capable CEO with the same characteristics and keep him or her accountable.

“That CEO will have exactly the same culture and leadership style that the board has and that would trickle down to the entire organisation.”

Jooste added that a mindset adjustment is needed, where public enterprises move away from the dependency syndrome of waiting for the government to bail them out when they are underperforming.

“For us the big issue and the bulk of the challenge is that we need a change of mindset. The human factor is the complicated issue. The practical and technical things are very straightforward but the human factor is the complicated factor.

“We've had 29 years of a dependency syndrome from our public enterprises which is unsustainable entirely, so that has created a mindset and a corporate DNA within those entities which we now have to remanufacture. Accountability and our current realities are currently facilitating that but the way in which we have been doing our public enterprises has not been good enough.

“The human factor and mindset change is the biggest challenge we have as a ministry,” he said.

Also speaking in an interview, the South African minister of public enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, said there are many lessons that Namibia and South Africa can learn from each other in terms of public enterprises, as their challenges are similar.

“What this conference has done for us is that it has given us an opportunity to understand both of our challenges, but also create the groundwork for the exchange of knowledge, the exchange of experience and cooperation as well.

“There are some similar issues and some specific to our countries.

“Where they are similar, I think we are going to have a lot more interaction and cooperation as we go forward,” said Gordhan.

The two-day conference was attended by public enterprises stakeholders from Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Sweden.

ADOLF KAURE

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