Jooste wants proactive board replacements

12 January 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste says work is being done to ensure that recruitment of boards begins six months before the term of those they are replacing expires.

This follows examples where individuals have often had to continue serving on the boards of public entities long after their terms of office have expired.

Board terms at several crucial state-owned enterprises - such the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology; the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund; Telecom Namibia; Fishcor, and the Namibia Industrial Development Agency - have expired.

At some of these institutions, the terms of old boards have been extended or interim boards have been appointed.

Commenting on new measures his ministry is adopting, Jooste said reforms were being introduced to ensure that boards would not be left vacant for long.

Time limit

“The process to appoint board members will also begin six months before a term expires to allow for due process to be followed,” he said.

“We are still seeing some reluctance from our top professionals to make themselves available for our Public Enterprises Boards of Directors and I want to appeal to our Namibian professionals to step out form their comfort zones and make themselves available to serve on these boards,” he added.

Jooste acknowledged, however, that it was sometimes challenging to find competent persons to serve on the boards of public entities.

Challenges

“I am aware of this perception and we are trying very hard to dispel the sentiment. We enter into Governance Agreements with our boards where clear boundaries are set between the shareholder [government] and the board of directors. The new Act also very clearly defines the powers of the minister as shareholder and it would be illegal to reach beyond those legal boundaries on the boards of public entities.”

Meanwhile, work is also being done to ensure that the recruitment of CEOs at public entities would not take longer than three months to conclude, he said.

“The process can comfortably be concluded within three months if suitable candidates applied. In cases where no suitable candidates applied, the process may have to be repeated in parallel with headhunting,” he said.

University of Namibia academic Omu Kakujaha-Matundu said political interference affected the pace at which boards of SOEs are replaced and suggested that a committee be established within the public enterprises ministry.

“If there is political interference, it will prolong the appointment process. The solution is a committee within the line ministry that will assess members and guide on appointments,” he said.

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