SOE infighting

10 August 2018 | Columns

It is no secret the Namibian economy is in trouble and that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) over the years have gobbled up millions in taxpayer money in terms of bailouts.

However, Namcor has seemingly bucked this trend over the years by actually staying afloat and registering profit. In terms of its retail aspirations, the company is hoping to rake in millions while it is also likely to be faced with the management of the soon-to-be completed national oil storage facility at Walvis Bay. However in the midst of all these challenges, the parastatal seems to be more focused on internal battles, pitting current CEO Immanuel Mulunga against the board led by lawyer Patrick Kauta, for reasons that still remain a mystery to taxpayers. Namcor recently charged Mulunga after he was initially placed on compulsory leave to allow for smooth investigations by an audit firm. Questions have been asked about the motive of the investigation as well as the associated costs, which reportedly topped over N$4 million. The Namcor board has been at pains to explain their decision to enlist a private auditing company without the necessary procurement procedures being followed. This has heightened fears regarding a possible plot to remove the accounting officer for whatever reasons. The Namcor board's actions mirror that of their counterparts at TransNamib, who also allegedly didn't follow proper procurement procedures in appointing a law firm to oversee a disciplinary process for one of its executives. In this case the CEO of the company was not even consulted and the question remains how a board can be involved in the day-to-day running of such an important parastatal like TransNamib. This meddling in affairs holds dire consequences for corporate governance and it increasingly seems as if there are simply personality clashes involved, instead of moves to bolster the efficient running of an entity. We would like to remind those involved that state entities should be run in the interest of the taxpayers and should not be a playground to settle personal scores.

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