• Board allegedly wants to suspend executives
• Hailulu followers under fire
• Kaumbi and NHE in court on Tuesday
• Mukulu’s future hangs in the balance
While thousands of homeless Namibians wait for the state-funded housing parastatal to address the country’s housing crisis, those given that mandate to do so are too busy with boardroom fights. Two executives at the National Housing Enterprise are on the suspension line as the company’s board flexes its muscles to allegedly stem those who were aligned to former CEO Vinson Hailulu, The Patriot can reveal.
The board stands accused of conducting a reign of terror and witch-hunt at the housing enterprise, where those perceived to have been close to the departed Hailulu are allegedly being victimized.
This comes at a time when NHE can ill-afford to have board-management squabbles, especially at a time when thousands of Namibians wait on it to clear the housing backlog in the country that has already surpassed the 100 000 mark. In fact, media reports earlier this year outlined that NHE’s housing list stands at over 76 000. Hailulu’s former trusted aides Uazuva Kaumbi and Willem Titus who serve as senior managers for technical services and property management as well as business development and operations respectively are not on good grounds with the Sam Shivute-led board, so much that the board wrote to the line minister seeking permission to suspend the two executives. Plans to suspend the two are contained in a letter dated 10 June 2016 which bears Shivute’s name but not his signature, which The Patriot has seen. Further, the letter gives insight into the toxic atmosphere that continues to roil the troubled parastatal. The letter, which is addressed to Urban and Rural Development minister Sophia Shaningwa, reveal that the board wants to suspend the two because “they do not support the cause of the organization and their attitude is that of consistent and consistent insubordination.”
Shivute wanted permission to allow former acting CEO Elton Gaoseb to suspend the two senior managers while investigations into their conduct is being launched.
“It is difficult and with respect, frustrating to work with an executive team that fails to support the cause of the organization and which also deliberately fails to support the acting CEO. No organization will achieve its strategic goals when the executive team stands divided in matters of official work,” wrote Shivute. Shivute also accused the duo from either absconding from crucial meetings aimed at discussing the way forward on the selling and allocation of houses under the Mass Housing program, or they have entirely declined to participate. “They have also not been cooperative in other work related assignments,” Shivute pointed out. “It is without doubt, in reference to the above, that the two senior managers cannot be expected to continue working with the current Acting CEO and by extension even with the new substantive CEO once he assumes duty on 01 July 2016. It is also an empty expectation to expect the two to devote full commitment to the work and programs of NHE,” he further said. Public Enterpises minister Leon Jooste, who earlier this year directed all public enterprises, to channel planned suspensions through his yesterday said he did not receive any communication suggesting that NHE is planning to suspend the duo.
Shivute did not respond to text and calls left on his mobile. This publication wanted to affirm whether Shivute did indeed draft the quoted letter. Shaningwa also did not comment when contacted yesterday to see if she is aware of the situation at NHE. An internal source who spoke of the ‘unpleasant situation’ within the NHE house described the climate of victimization at NHE. Hailulu departed last year after he was informed that his employment contract would not be renewed and if he wanted to retain his position he must reapply. Hailulu opted not to reapply. “Discontent is growing because the board is exercising unbridled power to victimize employees for no reason….anyone who is perceived to have been close to Hailulu is being targeted,” said the source.
Titus and Kaumbi recently dragged NHE to court over separate cases. Titus challenged the troubled parastatal’s decision to appoint a board member as acting CEO while Kaumbi challenged the company’s decision to prevent internal candidates to apply for the CEO post. Despite the plans to axe the two, there is no evidence that a board meeting was held to consider resolve that internal candidates. Be that as it may, the board succeeded in getting its wish to exclude internal candidates by bulldozing through the non-existent resolution. It is not known whether the board is taking refuge in a personality cult against the two for taking the company to court.
Other senior staff at the NHE corroborate this story about the board’s behaviour. Titus, Kaumbi and NHE company secretary Ntelamo Ntelamo were amongst the 16 candidates that vied to succeed Hailulu. None of the 16 made it because the company opted to rather headhunt. NHE finances Titus and Kaumbi, together with the departed John Mugaviri who managed the purse of NHE before retiring in May this year, formed part of Hailulu’s leadership team. Mugaviri’s departure, along with the perceived crackdown of the executive members who served during Hailulu’s tenure, continue to cripple NHE. Sources said the timing of his resignation was suspicious – critics averred this was because he fears that the new board might uncover financial irregularities carried out under his watch at the company that continues to live from hand-to-mouth due to its precarious financial standing. NHE’s financial woes have not gone unnoticed, last year Urban and Rural Development minister Sophia Shaningwa instructed NHE to provide her with all loans and overdraft facilities by NHE, and related collateral provided as guarantees on these facilities. “Furthermore, it will be appreciated if bank balances for all NHE accounts can also be provided to me in order to assess the total exposure and liabilities of NHE,” instructed Shaningwa at the time. Shaningwa also sent a copy to President Hage Geingob
NHE, Kaumbi in court
The mediation hearing in the labour dispute between Kaumbi and the NHE before the office of the Labour Commissioner is set for Tuesday(12 July). With Mukulu having started work at NHE last week, odds are stacked against Kaumbi at this point in time. Kaumbi failed last month when he interdicted the appointment of Mukulu in the Windhoek High Court.
Acting High Court Judge Liezl van Wyk dismissed the application instituted by Kaumbi that was sought pending the resolution of a dispute Kaumbi had lodged with the Labour Commissioner.
Who is Gisbertus Mukulu?
Mukulu, who joined the Okahao Town Council in 2006, is a holder of a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Botswana, and a Bachelor of Administration and a Higher Education diploma from the University of Namibia. Prior to his appointment at Okahao, Mukulu was a lecturer at the Unam’s Hifikepunye Pohamba Campus, formerly known as Ongwediva College of Education.
He is also a former school principal of Erundu Secondary School. Apart from Shivute, the NHE Board also consists of Aisha Isaak, Oscar Capelao and Petrina Nakale.
Who applied for the CEO position:
The following persons applied for the disputed CEO position that was eventually given to former Okahao CEO Gisbertus Mukulu who was headhunted after the board felt that none of the applicants were the preferred choice.
1. Willem George Titus
2. Olavi Hamwele
3. Alberts Munyanya Kulobone
4. Sadrag Panduleni Shihomeka
5. Hafeni Ganaliel Mungungu
6. Uazuva Kaumbi
7. Lea Annabel Namoloh
8. Magdalena Naweses
9. Ezra Pohamba Shilongo
10. Freddie Bruno Hegner
11. Clement Kwala
12. Akiser Pomuti
13. Mateus Kaholongo
14. Taswald Theo July
15. James Kalundu
16. Ntelamo Ntelamo