New board sought for Air Namibia

The current board chairperson says it is unfortunate that it has not been able to recruit a new MD, but emphasises that it has reached important milestones.

28 June 2018 | Government

CATHERINE SASMAN



The Ministry of Works and Transport is calling for “professional, academically qualified and committed” Namibians to apply to become board members of Air Namibia.

The current board’s three-year term expires at the end of July. The deadline for new applications is 13 July.

The works ministry, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Public Enterprises, is coordinating the appointment of the new board members.

It calls on applicants with expertise in business and airline operations, a track record in implementing changes, experience in finance and human resource management, commercial law, experience in project management, and experience as board members of commercial or private entities.

The current Air Namibia board chairperson, Gerson Tjihenuna, says it is “very unfortunate” that the board is leaving without having appointed a substantive managing director for the national airline.

“We could have appointed a person; we have the right to do so in terms of the Companies Act, but we thought we needed political endorsement for it and we therefore passed the ball to the government,” Tjihenuna said.

“Air Namibia operates within a political environment and that is why we did not want to appoint the MD without political support. We thought it was the correct thing to do.”

The recruitment process was assisted by Deloitte, and Tjihenuna says it was “very transparent”.

After the position was advertised and four candidates interviewed, the board in August last year recommended that Mandy Samson, the current acting MD, be appointed as the substantive MD.

This recommendation was made to works minister John Mutorwa, and the minister of public enterprises, Leon Jooste, was informed of it.

Tjihenuna says the board is still awaiting Mutorwa’s decision on the matter. Mutorwa is currently in hospital and could not be contacted for comment.

Samson, a former board member, has been acting in this position since August 2015 after the departure of Swiss national Rene Gsponer. She was initially only to serve in this position for 12 months, but this term was extended.

Achievements

Tjihenuna says one of the biggest achievements of the current board is that it facilitated a presentation by Oxford Economics, a company linked to Oxford University and leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis, which showed that Air Namibia’s contribution to direct and indirect job creation contributes “far more” to the national economy than the repeated bailouts it has received from the government.

Air Namibia was also ranked as the second best regional airline in Africa in 2016 and 2017.

Another feather in Air Namibia’s cap, Tjihenuna says, is the launching of its Windhoek-Lagos-Accra route tomorrow.

Tjihenuna also boasts that the current board is the first in the history of Air Namibia to have submitted an audited financial report to ministers Mutorwa and Jooste as well as to senior officials in the Ministry of Finance.

This audited report was tabled at an annual general meeting on 28 April and covered the financial years 1998 to 2014.

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