Recently appointed head of the National Housing Enterprise, Gisbertus Mukulu, knows that some of his subordinates are gunning for his head, but he says he is keeping his eye on the ball, that is, delivering affordable houses to Namibians. Mukulu’s appointment was subject to an avalanche of criticism, which landed him and his employer in court in a bid to halt his appointment. “I am fine, in fact, I am doing very well. I am just doing my work as per the provisions of my contact…regarding other issues, those are within the parameters of the board to take care of,” said a calm-sounding Mukulu during a telephonic interview this week. There were fears that Mukulu and NHE’s senior manager for technical services and property management Uazuva Kaumbi and Willem Titus, who serves as senior manager for business development and operations, might not get along when he was appointed, seeing that both dragged NHE to court on matters pertaining to his appointment.
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 from applying for the CEO post. The two were also unhappy after the board decided last year that no internal candidate would be allowed to apply for the CEO position. Mukulu has a huge assignment on his desk, seeing that his appointment came at a time when thousands of Namibians wait on NHE 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 alone, stands at over 76 000. Mukulu, however, indicated that “a cordial relationship exists between them”.
“The situation is fine, we have a cordial relationship and we are operating in a good manner. But as you know that is not the reason why I was appointed,” he said. He further said “complaints are normal”. Asked about any possible strategies up his sleeve to address the burning housing crisis in the country, Mukulu said: “I am still trying to know the operations of the entity by looking at the various areas of operations and also issues pertaining to how the different departments operate. I am trying to devise some strategies that I will make public at a later stage when I am comfortable to do so.” Asked how he is coping with the change of environment from being the CEO of Okahao to CEO of NHE, he said: “The experience is more or less the same in the sense that this mandate deals with housing and it’s one of the components I dealt with at local authority level.”
Meanwhile, the mediation hearing in the labour dispute between Kaumbi and the NHE before the office of the Labour Commissioner took place on Tuesday, but was postponed after NHE requested for more time to submit additional supporting documents.
NHE last month won in court after it was indicted by one of its managers, Kaumbi, in his bid to halt the appointment of Mukulu. The case is now with the Labour Court. NHE is being represented by Clement Daniels, who refused to comment on Tuesday’s labour court appearance saying the matter is ‘confidential’. Acting High Court Judge Liezl van Wyk at the time dismissed the application instituted by Kaumbi that was sought pending the resolution of a dispute Kaumbi had lodged with the Labour Commissioner. Sources at NHE say the working relationship between the company and Titus and Kaumbi is strained to the core, especially now that it has surfaced that there is a bid by some board members to suspend the two who now stand accused of insubordination and refusing to follow instructions.
Titus, Kaumbi and NHE company secretary Ntelamo Ntelamo were among the 16 candidates that vied to succeed Hailulu. None of the 16 made it because the company opted to headhunt Mukulu.