High-level panel members land plum jobs

16 April 2021 | Government

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

Several of the individuals who served on the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) have been landed cushy government jobs since playing advisor to government.

This has sparked questions whether the appointments were based on performance or served as rewards for serving at President Hage Geingob’s behest.

Namibian Sun had also questioned whether serving on the former panel opened up former members to other business opportunities.

Such members include former EOS Capital chairman Johannes !Gawaxab, who landed the job as Bank of Namibia governor; former PwC country manager Nangula Uaandja, who is now the founding CEO of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB); and former Allan Gray MD James Mnyupe, who is now the president’s economic advisor. Mnyupe is also a board member of NIPDB.

Other members of the former panel who have scored themselves board positions at the newly established investment agency are businessman Martin Shipanga, Business Finance Solutions MD Kauna Ndilula and outgoing Standard Bank CEO Vetumbuavi Mungunda.

Revolving door

An observer, who chose not to be named, said the appointments came as no surprise.

“The revolving door policy at play whereby people move from being advisors to implementers must be carefully observed to ensure that the recommendations they gave as panel members are not used in their current capacities for their own interests,” said the expert.

The observer also indicated that there seems to be a shift from the old tradition of government policies being informed by the Swapo Party manifesto.

“You would not that Swapo always had socialist policies in the past, but we now see a shift whereby capitalism is at play. Most of the advisors who served on the panel come from big multinationals that places profits before anything else,” the observer said.

Justified

Political analyst Graham Hopwood felt the work done by the panel was useful and justified the advancement of former members, saying the work they had provided on the panel justified the recent appointments.

“The HLPNE did good work and I believe they produced a solid report with many useful recommendations. The panel also consisted of able and talented people - so I am not surprised that they have gone on to be promoted,” said Hopwood.

Fair judgment

Academic Henning Melber held a similar view, saying that having been in the HLPNE before allows a fair judgment before the appointments are made in comparison with the performance in the position appointed to.

“If these individuals have competence, know-how, integrity and work ethics which merit further appointments, then this seems a matter beyond criticism,” Melber said.

“Making these appointments as such is not sufficient proof of favouritism and patrimonialism. It only shows that elites tend to consolidate and reproduce themselves. If this happens based on qualifications and performance, it simply is a feature how societies function,” Melber said.

He added, though, that former members of the HLPNE could enjoy a certain degree of preference because of their proximity to power.

Melber also warned against generalised statements, saying: “We should avoid sweeping statements, which might be unfair to certain individuals, while applicable to others.”

Mungunda, Mnyupe and Uaandja are all chartered accountants, with Mungunda and Uaandja both having served as country managers of audit firms while Mynupe was country manager for an asset management firm.

Shipanga and !Gawaxab have a long track record serving at executive management level, with the former serving as the CEO of both the City of Windhoek and Nedbank while !Gawaxab served as the CEO of Old Mutual Africa.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari was asked whether their serving on the panel influenced their appointments. He promised to respond, but had not done so by the time of going to print.

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