Mutorwa reads riot act to TransNamib board

26 September 2018 | Government

The current TransNamib board, whose term ends in November, has been warned to put their differences aside and focus on the wellbeing of the ailing parastatal.

They have also been instructed to meet this week to finalise and approve a strategic plan to turn around the misfortunes currently bedevilling the state-owned enterprise.

This will be their first full board meeting in four months.

A resolution was also taken that deputy transport minister James Sankwasa has the right to take legal action with regard to an alleged slanderous communiqué by board members relating to a trip he undertook to Zambia.

Sankwasa recently clashed with board chairperson Paul Smit.

These were some of the outcomes of an intervention by transport minister John Mutorwa last week, which were publicised yesterday, following the closed-door session.

The long overdue meeting between Mutorwa and the TransNamib board and CEO took place last Thursday to discuss a raft of issues, including alleged non-cooperation and disruptive behaviour by board member Dantagos Jimmy-Melani.

Mutorwa said a date was set for the meeting, with the condition that Jimmy-Melani must be present.

According to a joint statement issued by TransNamib and the ministry, no board meetings were held during the past four months.

Mutorwa said this emanated from the perceived conflict amongst some of the members, with Jimmy-Melani illegally suspended in October last year.

In February, Mutorwa advised the board to recall Jimmy-Melani to be part of the board meetings. Mutorwa's intervention resolved that all board meetings must henceforth be attended by all five board members, who must adhere to the rules and regulations without any exception.

“Board members who do not want to adhere to the rules and regulations must forward his/her resignation letter to the works minister without being forced to do so,” said Mutorwa.

He said from now on there must not be a non-meetings and warned board members to put their perceived differences aside and focus on company matters collectively, and where so required, individually.

The board further was directed to have their full board meeting between 24 to 28 September to discuss finalise and approve the company's strategic plan, as earlier directed by the cabinet committee on treasury.

Also under discussion was the issue of some board members being involved in daily operations.

It was agreed that operational issues should be handled by the CEO and the executive team, and if needed, the board can give guidance.

The meeting agreed that any person with evidence of alleged corruption must report the matter to the relevant authorities immediately.

It was further agreed that the line minister is in no position to support any allegation that is a matter of “destructive gossip”.

The meeting was also informed that CEO Johnny Smith was served with a letter of misconduct on 17 September, which was written by Smit.

However, some board members claimed they were not part of the decision and therefore could not support the content of this letter.

Board members were therefore requested to sign a copy of the letter to confirm or deny being part of the decision to write it.

The meeting resolved that informal discussions and conclusions made by some board members do not constitute a full board decision.

“In this case, it is seen as clear victimisation from some board members towards the CEO for reasons not yet clear. The board was advised to follow legally laid down procedures and not victimisation.”

Ellis and Partners legal practitioners also came under scrutiny.

The legal practitioners received instructions from TransNamib to assist with compiling disciplinary charges against former acting CEO Hippy Tjivikua.

Tjivikua had become embroiled in alleged dubious deals involving N$24 million.

Lawyer Phillip Ellis had written to Mutorwa that there was evidence to charge Tjivikua, and warned that letting him off the hook could allow “corruption, fraud and collusion” to continue at TransNamib.

Mutorwa expressed dismay about how he was approached directly, and without any forewarning from the board.

The meeting agreed that Tjivikua should be afforded the right to be heard, as per procedure.

A request to the finance ministry by the board for ad hoc legal services was not granted.


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