Key parastatals sitting with no ‘bosses’
- Air Namibia….Searching
- Telecom Namibia….Searching
- Social Security Commission…. Process finalised, pending appointment
By Cecilia Iyambo
Whether it is the lack of available skills or political interference in recruitment processes, several key public enterprises that are crucial to aid government’s development agenda continue to operate without substantive principals.
Some of these companies have been without chief executive officers/managing directors for more than a year.
Some of the notable ones include the National Housing Enterprise, Nampower, Social Security Commission, TransNamib Holdings, Air Namibia, Namfisa and Telecom Namibia.
In most of the cases the parastatal heads’ either resigned, were suspended or contracts not renewed and death in the case of Namfisa’s late CEO Phillip Shiimi.
These are enterprises that are key when it comes to addressing housing, electricity, telecommunications, aviation and rail transport issues in the country. These are also the institutions that beg most for government bailouts despite enjoying state-backing to conduct their operations.
Government has over the years poured billions into struggling state-owned enterprises that should be standing on their own two feet, but state enterprises continue to crawl and beg for more money.
The situation, according to Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste, is a “very serious and major concern”.
Jooste said: “I instructed all of these companies to finalise the recruitment of CEO/MD as soon as it’s practical and they are complying.”
“For us as representative of the Shareholder it provides a serious challenge as far as governance and accountability is concerned. The important thing is to identify and then address the root cause of this phenomena,” he said while responding to questions sent to him.
Jooste last year even went as far as issuing a Directive to prohibit any further suspensions unless it is approved by the public enterprise ministry. He said suspensions will only be considered under the most extreme circumstances.
He also blamed the legal processes involved for the delays experienced.
Jooste said his next step is to ensure that public enterprises have proper succession planning processes in place to ensure “seamless leadership transition”.
Regarding the developing trend of SOEs outsourcing recruitment processes while they sit with fully staffed human resource departments who are supposed to be qualified in that field, Jooste had this to say: “Internal HR departments are equipped to deal with regular recruitment but the recruitment of CEOs and MDs is very complex and it is common practice to appoint an independent consultant to handle this.”
“The hiring of an independent also ensures a transparent, unbiased process where evaluation is conducted based on technical and psychological analysis rather than personal preferences,” he said.
His statement comes days after President Hage Geingob also expressed concern over public enterprises when asked during a meeting at State House about headless public enterprises.
“We have so many SOEs with boards and MDs with highly paid salaries and so on but these situations still persist. That is why we created a ministry to be in charge of public enterprises. The minister has been working on that and he will come with a proposal on how to deal with this,” said the President on Tuesday during a meeting with officials from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
“Sometimes we are efficient but not effective, we have good plans that are efficiently planned but they are not implemented therefore we are deemed ineffective,” he said, adding that those who criticize him must wait until his term ends and “corner me about the commitments I made.”
‘Public enterprises must comply’
Jooste yesterday circulated a press release in which he announced that
a Public Enterprises Compliance Project will be launched on 16 May 2016.
During the project lifespan, all 97 public enterprises will be visited by officials from the enterprise ministry whereby discussions will be based on concerns of the Ministry and particular elements of non-compliance will be discussed and appropriate remedial actions agreed upon.
One of the performance indicators in the Ministerial Performance Contract is to ensure that the Public Enterprises reach a status of full compliance. According to Jooste, previous attempts to “inspire” Public Enterprises to attend to items of non-compliance has yielded marginal results and the Ministry has decided to commit to a dedicated project to address this matter.
Jooste also revealed that all Public Enterprises will be issued with a new Directive to align their Procurement Policies to the new Public Procurement Act 2015. The new law makes provision for the inclusion of Public Enterprises and the alignment of their Procurement Policies to this Act is of fundamental importance and another Performance Indicator as per Ministerial Performance Contract.
According to Jooste, one of the Ministry’s major reform strategies for public enterprises is to introduce a comprehensive performance based governance system.
“The new Remuneration Guidelines which are about to be finalized will incorporate an incentivised remuneration system where remuneration will be based on performance. Clear, quantifiable key performance indicators will be negotiated with Boards and CEO/MDs and appropriate performance bonuses will only be allowed once these indicators are achieved.”